Eastern Iowans awoke to frigid temperatures — historically low in some cases — on Christmas Eve, but despite the desire to stay indoors there's little reason to avoid traveling for Christmas, some say.
KCRG-TV9 meteorologist Kaj O'Mara reports the minus 18 degrees in Cedar Rapids this morning tied the record low for Dec. 24 set in 1983, and it is the coldest it's been in nearly five years. On Jan. 16, 2009, it was minus 28 degrees, one degree shy of the all-time record here set the day before.
While other parts of Eastern Iowa didn't shatter records, at minus 15 in Iowa City, minus 21 in Waterloo and minus 20 in Dubuque, it's safe to say it's been a cold day all around.
"It's been a long time since we have had it this cold," O'Mara said. "Unfortunately, it seems like the pattern is going to continue with periodic bouts of cold weather."
While the Christmas Day forecast calls for an uptick to a high of 25 degrees and low of 10, with storms on the horizon every two or three days for the foreseeable future, this cold snap will be tough to break, O'Mara said.
Those wanting a white Christmas will be in luck. Light snow could accumulate to 2 to 3 inches (heavier in northern parts of Iowa) by morning, making for a fresh coating. But, travel should be relatively safe.
"Most people are pretty adept at traveling in relatively light snow as that would appear to be," said Gail Weinholzer, a spokesperson for AAA Minnesota/Iowa. "People should be safe as long as they are allowing extra time, making sure their vehicle is well-maintained and driving appropriately. This isn't a blizzard. Most people can handle an inch or two."
Still, people should also be careful of non-vehicle related accidents.KCRG-TV9 reports the deep freeze is leading to packed emergency rooms in Cedar Rapids, including at least 20 people a day winding up in St. Luke's emergency room after tumbling on icy roads, sidewalks and driveways in the last five days.