(Above) Remember when we were worried there wouldn’t be enough ice for the Color The Wind Kite Festival? Those were the days! Sub-zero temperatures have provided plenty of ice on the lake.
Extreme cold closes down businesses, schools
by Marianne Gasaway
If you are reading this, you are probably inside and warm. Good for you, because truthfully it’s not safe to be anywhere else.
An extended and rarely seen outbreak of extreme cold and dangerous wind chills from Sunday night through Thursday morning is putting the freeze on normal activities. Forecasters say the high today (Wednesday, Jan. 30) will only be -18, with a wind chill value as low as -60. Temperatures could dip to a low of -31 Wednesday night, but winds will begin to subside.
Wind chill warnings remain in effect to noon Thursday.
The National Weather Service reminds the public that “those venturing outside for any extended period will be in a potentially life threatening situation. The dangerously cold chills could cause frostbite to exposed skin in as little as five minutes and can also be life threatening.” This will likely be Iowa’s coldest air in over 20 years.
Clear Lake, like other North Iowa Schools, called off classes Tuesday and Wednesday.
“With it being a windchill warning, we need to be careful about our students being out, especially waiting for a bus,” said Clear Lake School Superintendent Doug Gee. “We also have to be concerned about our buses gelling up when it gets that cold.”
The Clear Lake Senior Center will also be closed Wednesday. There will be no Congregate Meals or Meals on Wheels.
As much as they would like to, farmers like Wyatt Winkelman simply can’t stay inside when it is this cold. Winkelman has a 600-700 sheep operation south of Clear Lake with his father, Jim, and brother, Walker.
“In cold weather we need to spend a lot more time outside checking on the livestock and making sure the waterer’s don’t freeze,” he explained. “At night we usually let them roam in and out of the buildings, but when it’s this cold we lock them inside. We also started lambing the first of the year, so that adds a twist to the dangers of the cold. We need to pay special attention to the mothers and make sure they are inside and warm.”
U.S. Postal Service carriers are also subjected to the cold. According to Clear Lake Postmaster Carl Nedved, the Postmaster General in the nation’s capitol issued direction Tuesday for weather awareness. Nedved said he was calling carriers off their routes by 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. Delivery priority would be given to packages and letters.
Despite the cold, postal carrier Jason Dennis was in good spirits Tuesday as he made his rounds.
“I’m getting by with lots of prayers from my wife and layers,” he added. “I basically have three of everything on.”
Absolute Waste is giving its employees a break from the cold Wednesday. In conjunction with an announcement by the Landfill of North Iowa that it will be closed Wednesday, Absolute Waste is doing the same. The Landfill, as well as garbage pickup services, are expected to resume Thursday. The Landfill will open at noon Thursday.
Tina Baack, secretary at Tony’s Towing in Clear Lake, said the week is getting crazier by the day as her crew responds to stranded motorists in town and traveling the interstate. “We are towing as many as possible into the shop because it’s just not fit to be out there,” she said.
But there is some good news in sight. Temperatures will differ up to 55 degrees Wednesday through Saturday, with Saturday’s temperature nearing 37— an almost 100 degree difference when considering wind chill!