Frigid Air to Threaten Tornado-Ravaged Midwest

By Jillian MacMath, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
November 22, 2013; 3:04 PM
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A man walks through what is left of a neighborhood in Washington, Ill., on Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, a day after a tornado ripped through the central Illinois town. The tornado cut a path about an eighth of a mile wide from one side of Washington to the other and damaged or destroyed as many as 500 homes. (AP Photo/Armando Sanchez)

January-like cold is on the way for areas of the Midwest that were ravaged by tornadoes on Sunday, bringing dangerous and life-threatening low temperatures to those still without power.

Thirteen counties in Illinois have been declared state disaster areas by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn in response to Sunday's severe weather.

It has been estimated by Mayor Gary Manier that more than 500 homes and businesses have been damaged or destroyed in Washington, Ill., according to WGN Radio.

"We don't yet have a total handle on [the number of people displaced]," Patti Thompson, spokesperson for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency told AccuWeather.com.

The arrival of frigid air may force more people through the doors of the state's six open disaster shelters in the coming days.

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Additionally, hundreds are still without power in Washington and Peoria, Ill., making the overnight lows Saturday and Sunday extremely dangerous.

"The highs during the day this weekend can easily feel like the dead of winter cold," AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Bernie Rayno.

Temperatures are forecast to drop 15 to 20 degrees below normal this weekend.

Saturday will usher in temperatures in the 20s with biting wind from the north. The wind will drop RealFeel® temperatures into the single digits and below zero at times.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, the mercury could fall into the teens.

"[Those in the area] need to be prepared. If they don't have heat, they need to seek shelter somewhere that does," Rayno said. "This is a bona fide shot of cold air."

Though the conditions could be deadly overnight, prolonged daytime exposure to the elements can also bring the risk of hypothermia.

The gusty winds forecast Saturday will cause the body to lose heat faster than cold air alone. Those working to clear debris from roadways and search for salvageable belongings are urged to dress warmly.

Hypothermia begins when the core temperature of the body drops below 95 F.

"Anybody caught outdoors and unprepared is at risk," Rayno said.

Despite the Arctic air, the Midwest is in the clear for severe weather for the next several days. The warmth and moisture that brought Sunday's destruction is gone, Rayno said.

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