As Aurora cleans up from storm, bitter cold is on the way
By Stephanie Lulay firstname.lastname@example.org January 2, 2014 2:02PM
Steve Mefford and his son Matthew, 8, of Batavia enjoy sledding at the Fabyan Forest Preserve in Geneva Wednesday. | Sean King~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 4, 2014 6:19AM
AURORA — How bad was the storm that swept into the Fox Valley as 2013 turned to 2014?
Bad enough to likely make Rosario DeLeon’s Top 5 list.
“There are no two storms alike, but I’d possibly say this would be Top 5,” said DeLeon, Aurora director of public properties.
It wasn’t the worst of the past 20 years — that would be 2011’s “Snowmageddon” — but the city faced specific challenges this time around. Bitter cold temperatures and snow that just kept coming made the clean-up more difficult for city crews, DeLeon said. When temperatures reach the low teens, road salt is not as effective at melting snow and ice.
Aurora recorded 7 to 9 inches of snow as of late Thursday, according to the city’s Director of Communications Clayton Muhammad.
“While we weren’t getting heavy accumulations, it just kept dragging on and on and on,” DeLeon said.
As of 6 a.m. Thursday, every street in Aurora was plowed from curb to curb and salted, DeLeon said. When light snow began to fall again, crews returned to clearing the city’s 700 miles of primary roadways, he said.
Into Thursday night, plow trucks returned to clearing the 650 miles of residential streets, with a focus on the roads that could not be previously plowed to the curb because of parked cars, DeLeon said. Crews planned to continue clean-up efforts overnight.
In an attempt to combat consistently falling snow, city crews were assisted by contractors to maximize snow clearing efforts, he said.
“Right now we’re in touch-up mode,” DeLeon said. “We’re just pushing back (snow) in the areas that need it.”
Aurora Township Highway Commissioner John Shoemaker said it is part of his job to play meteorologist to know when to disperse the township’s small crew. Aurora Township is responsible for clearing mainly neighborhood routes.
“We got lucky this time,” Shoemaker said. “We were really happy with our response.”
The snowfall’s holiday arrival played in the city’s favor, DeLeon said. There was no school as students are still on winter break and some residents weren’t working because of the New Year’s holiday.
“We received very few calls,” he said.
The National Weather Service is expected to enact a Wind Chill Advisory at 9 p.m. Thursday through 10 a.m. Friday. The forecast called for temperatures reaching -15 degrees and with wind chills reaching -20 to -30 degrees, according to Stephen Rodriguez, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Romeoville office.
Friday is expected to be bitterly cold, too. The forecast called for temperatures ranging from 10 to 14 degrees with wind chills of -20 to -30 degrees. Strong wind gusts, up to 35 mph, may cause significant blowing and drifting of existing snow, reducing visibility, Rodriguez said.
A 50 percent chance of snow is possible Saturday. A high in the upper 20s and a low near 5 degrees in expected, with wind chills again reaching negative digits.
Rodriguez said “dangerously low temperatures” will sweep into the area beginning Sunday night and will linger until Wednesday.
“The temperature will not rise above zero,” he said.
Sunday’s forecast calls for highs near 10 degrees and a low near -16 degrees. A 30 percent chance of snow is possible and wind chills at night may reach -30 to -40 degrees.
Monday’s high temperature is expected to be -8 to -12 degrees. Lows may reach -20 degrees, Rodriguez said, and wind chills may reach -35 to -45 degrees.
Tuesday’s high temperature is expected to be -1 to -5 degrees.
A high of 32 degrees and low of 17 degrees are normal for this time of year. “We are well below the normal average,” he said.
Rodriguez said more snow is possible late into the next work week.
In light of the Wind Chill Advisory, the following Aurora warming centers will be open:
All Aurora Public Library locations: 1 E. Benton St.; 555 S. Eola Rd.; 233 S. Constitution Ave. The libraries are all open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday to Saturday; and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. For information, call 630-264-4100.
Prisco Community Center, 150 W. Illinois Ave. Open 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday to Friday; 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. For information, call 630-859-8606.
Salvation Army, 437 E. Galena Blvd. Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday. For information call 630-897-7265.
Senior citizens who require additional assistance should contact Senior Services, Inc., a local social service agency, Muhammad said. They are at 900 N. Lake St., 2nd Floor, and are open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday. They can be reached 24 hours per day by calling 630-897-4035.