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How cold was it last week?

Mount Carroll is the coldest spot in Illinois once more

Snow covers the base of the Civil War Monument in Mt. Carroll. The city had the lowest recorded temperature in Illinois -38 during the Polar Vortex last week.
Snow covers the base of the Civil War Monument in Mt. Carroll. The city had the lowest recorded temperature in Illinois -38 during the Polar Vortex last week.

MOUNT CARROLL – Bill Zink does more than simply supervising water and sewer functions in the Carroll County seat.

Zink also is the town’s National Weather Service weather spotter. 

Each day, Zink checks the calibrated equipment at the town’s sewer plant, but made an interesting discovery in the brutal cold Thursday morning. 

After 20 years, Mount Carroll once again may hold one of Illinois’ dubious weather honors. The low temperature Thursday morning was an eyeball-freezing 38 degrees below zero.

“I thought it was kind of neat,” Zink said. “With as icy and as cold as it was, I didn’t know if somebody else had the record, or was that cold, too, in the area.”

Weather service officials visited Mount Carroll on Friday to inspect the equipment for accuracy. It’s the same apparatus that Zink’s grandfather, Levi, used when he was the town’s observer during the 1960s and early 70s.

“The thermometer registers the lowest temperature, no matter what time you check it,” Zink said. 

The new low unofficially broke Congerville’s icy grip on the state record, and wresting back its title – Mount Carroll held the record low temp of minus 35 for nearly 7 decades, from 1930 to 1999, until Congerville, a village of fewer than 500 near Peoria, hit 36 below on Jan. 5 that year. 

Whether or not the new low is a record will be up to the determination of Illinois’ climate extremes committee; it is expected to rule on the record this week, but Zink said that there shouldn’t be any issue with the reading.

Albertus Airport, south of Freeport, registered a low of 32 below at 7:15 a.m. Thursday. Temperatures there were below zero from 2:35 p.m. Jan. 29 to 6:35 a.m. Friday – a span of 64 hours. The highest wind gust reached 35 mph at 12:15 a.m. Jan. 30; the area’s maximum blast was 38 mph logged at Lock and Dam 13 north of Fulton.

A huge swing followed the bitter cold: Temperatures were estimated to approach 50 degrees at the airport Monday, a swing of over 80 degrees in 4 days; and then return to average figures by Wednesday.

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