Bone chilling

The good news? We aren't expected to hit record low temperatures today or Tuesday with the predicted single digit mercury readings.
Marie Havenga
Jan 5, 2014

The bad news? The National Weather Service doesn't keep wind chill records – and those are expected to nosedive to negative 25 to 30.

While the temperature drops, the snow banks will rise. A winter storm warning is in effect until 8 p.m. today with another 3 to 6 inches of snow expected.

And that’s caused officials to close most area schools today – including Grand Haven and Spring Lake.

“For the next couple of days especially it's going to be quite dangerous,” said National Weather Service Meteorologist Brandon Hoving. “The wind will be picking up with snow blowing around. Temperatures will be dropping throughout the day. With wind chills well below zero, it's not going to be very safe to be outdoors.”

Flesh freezes in as little as 15 minutes in the predicted temperature plunge, according to Hoving.

The National Weather Service has a wind chill warning in effect from 7 a.m. today until 7 p.m. Tuesday. Those aren't issued until wind chills plummet to -25 Fahrenheit.

“We don't do that often at all,” Hoving said. “It's quite rare to have wind chills that low. I don't think we had one last winter. It's relatively rare.”

Monday's predicted 6 degrees will be the lowest daytime highs since February 2007, according to Hoving. Temperatures will drop to zero by Monday night.

Tuesday is expected to reach a balmy 9 degrees, but sustained winds of 15 to 25 mph will drive the -25 wind chill into the bone.

Gusts on Monday could reach 40 mph, the meteorologist said, but are expected to lessen by Tuesday. Dismal road conditions and the Fahrenheit freefall closed area schools today.

The Ottawa County guideline for school closings is sustained -15 degrees, according to Grand Haven Public Schools Superintendent Keith Konarska.

Konarska said he can recall only one other time when school was closed because of the wind chill policy.

“We're not going to take any chances,” said Konarska, who made the call Sunday evening after driving the roads. “Currently, the road conditions are very bad.”

That's been a resounding theme so far this winter – 39.6 inches of snow had been recorded in Grand Haven as of 6 p.m. Sunday. Last winter, Grand Haven received 4.7 inches through the end of December and 19.4 inches through the end of January.

“This has definitely been a way more active winter and not just for lake effect snow,” Hoving said.

Sunday's snowfall reached 8 inches in the Holland area and just a couple of inches in Muskegon County.

“There was a big gradient across Ottawa County (on Sunday),” said Hoving, who did not have Sunday snowfall totals for Grand Haven. Temperatures are expected to slide up to 20 to 30 degrees by the end of the week, with snowfall tapering off. Weekend highs could reach the mid-30s.

Several people took advantage of the fresh snow at Hemlock Crossings County Park.

Rick and Barb Robbert finished their walk late in the afternoon as the snow continued to fall.

“We come out every day to take a walk with the puppies,” Barb said as she gestured to their two large dogs.

Barb said they wanted to make sure they got out there Sunday because they were afraid it would be too cold on Monday.

Later in the evening Bob Moore of Muskegon stopped at a Grand Haven gas station to fill up his tow truck’s tank.

“It’s nothing to run 30-40 calls a day when the weather is like this,” he said.

Moore works for Ramos Towing and said one other driver was out Sunday.

He said the majority of the calls were for slide-offs, people stuck at the end of driveways and jumpstarts.

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