Schools were cancelled and people were advised to stay indoors Monday when temperatures dipped double-digits below zero and wind chills were dangerously low.
The National Weather Service out of Des Moines issued a Wind Chill Warning from Monday until noon Tuesday for a good portion of the state as an Arctic airmass moved across the state.
Monday morning at 7 a.m. temperatures on local outdoor gauges ranged from -17 degrees on the Iowa Trust &?Savings Bank sign to -22 at Kerber Companies sign. Combine that with Northwest winds at 17 miles-per-hour (gusting to 30 mph) and the wind chill is from -45 to -50 below zero.
According to the National Weather Service, "These wind chills will be the coldest in nearly 20 years over much of the area. Extreme wind chills of this magnitude can result in frost bite in minutes and lead to hypothermia or death if precautions are not taken."
For Iowa, statewide, the January 2009 and February 1996 outbreak are the most recent standards for comparison, according to the National Weather Service. In 1996, the lowest wind chill was at Mason City with -79 on Feb. 2, 1996.
During extreme cold and before winter storms, FEMA encourages people to make an emergency kit that includes rock sale or similar product to melt ice on walkways; sand to improve traction; snow shovel and other snow removal equipment; sufficient heating fuel; and adequate clothing and blankets to keep warm. Make a family communications plan. It is important to know how to contact one another, how everyone will get back together, and what to do in case of an emergency. Also, bring pets inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.
Recommended winter survival kit for your vehicle should include: cell phone, portable charger and extra batteries; shovel; windshield scraper; battery-powered radio with extra batteries; flashlight with extra batteries; water; snack food; extra hats, coats and mittens; blankets; chains or rope; tire chains; canned compressed air with sealant for emergency tire repair; road salt and sand; booster cables; emergency flares; bright colored flag or help signs; first aid kit; tool kit; road maps; compass; waterproof matches and a can to melt snow for water; paper towels.
While students are home from school, they can do their own cold weather science experiments. Examples on The Weather Channel include: blow up a typical birthday balloon. Place the balloon outside, tied to a stationary object so it doesn't blow away. Over time, the balloon will contract and implode. This could take several minutes or happen very quickly. Bring the balloon inside to room temperature and watch it re-inflate.
Another project: take a ripe banana outside and let it hang out for a few hours. It will eventually become hard as a rock -- so hard that you could very well use the banana to hammer a nail.
Best of all, stay indoors and stay warm.