By Herb Meeker

News Report Staff

If you’re glad January has passed into history, you’re definitely not alone in Effingham County.

From the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day and through the first three weeks of January, the weather gauge produced plenty of headaches with frozen water mains, stalled vehicles, chilled fingers or toes, an onslaught of colds or flu, and slippery driving conditions.

In addition, when the mercury rose to more pleasant levels, rainfall descended on the county and, in a matter of hours one day, the temperature dropped by 40 degrees.

Anyone waking up on New Year’s Day realized 2018 was not starting on a high note. The temperature that morning was down to a bone-chilling minus 6. The “high” temperature for the first day of January in Effingham was 10 degrees, based on National Weather Service records.

January 2 was not much better with a low of minus 5 and a high of 18. That made the return to work a challenge with many stalled vehicles across the county. Bitter cold is normally expected at the start of January in Central Illinois, but the average low for Effingham is 18 to 19, not subzero.

Frigid nights and early mornings continued here through January 6 with the average low at about 4 degrees. And the high temperatures during the daytime didn’t reach the freezing mark, either. No wonder some municipal workers were busy repairing frozen water mains. Firefighters and other emergency responders had to take extra precautions to avoid frostbite from exposure to the extremely cold air.

Some school students didn’t mind the winter onslaught. They enjoyed their snow days that canceled classes at many schools in the county.

During the second week of the month, there was a sudden rise in temperatures. Naturally, this brought on rainfall, especially on January 10 and 11 when the high temperature was 56 and 61 respectively. But the warmer weather accompanied by cloudy skies and high winds left quickly on January 11. The mercury went into the freefall of 40 degrees from 61 down to 21.

Then came the ice and snow on January 12 and 15. This left some of us either slip-sliding away on foot or by motor vehicle. Worse yet, it would take a week before the thermometer rose past the freezing point for a high point. And the low points were miserable, ranging from a low of -2 on January 16 to 15 above zero on January 12.

The snow and the ice base below it was not going away until the big freeze ended. The thaw finally arrived in earnest on January 19 with 44 degrees, although tempered by a low of 24 degrees. The snow cover and ice base was in full retreat with highs of 50 and 53 on January 20 and 21. But rainfall came back, too, producing some days with damp cold effect.

By January 25, we were enjoying sunshine and weather in the fifties across the county. But that ended by Sunday night with rainfall turning into snow.

We can only hope February will show more heart for us, and not just on St. Valentine’s Day.