PEORIA — From the Deep Freeze to the Great Thaw, Central Illinois is getting its money's worth this year when it comes to the weather.
After setting records for the coldest days in Peoria's history, Mother Nature has decided to treat the area with an early spring. After all, the River City did spend 41 hours -- from 7 p.m. Jan. 29 until about noon Jan. 31 -- below zero degrees, according to data from the National Weather Service in Lincoln.
However, with seven inches of snow pack on the frozen ground and with area rivers and creeks frozen, it could result in some minor flooding around the area.
Sandbags aren't likely needed as the river is currently at 13 feet, five feet below flood stage in Downtown Peoria and about 10 feet below where flooding starts to affect the Downtown but that doesn't mean there couldn't be some localized wet spots, especially in lower lying areas and near creeks.
Street crews in the city of Peoria took advantage of the warming temperatures to continue patching pot holes that seem to be growing by the dozen. Pot holes are formed when the pavement expands and contracts with the changing temperature. If water can seep into the cracks, it's even worse. But it's not possible to do a full repair now on the streets so the crews use something called "cold patch," said Sie Maroon, the city’s assistant public works director.
The mixture is part asphalt, part oil and it's heated up to about 80 degrees or so. Workers fill the hole and flatten it out. The idea is to prevent possible vehicle damage but also to try to stop the hole from getting bigger due to wheels banging on the sides. The cold patch will not seal a pot hole but it will provide a possible temporary fix until it's warmer and a more permanent repair can be done.
And that work is needed now as with temperatures as high as 50 coming on Monday, it's possible there will be even more cracking in the pavement due to the thaw. And then there's the storm drains.
During winter, many of the storm drains are covered by snow as the plows clear the streets and thawing often comes but not as rapidly as it will this weekend and often not with rain in the forecast. As such, crews with Peoria's public works department will be out this weekend on an as-needed basis but will likely hit the drains with a vengeance on Monday to clear the snow away form the drains and to allow the water to drain, Maroon said.
"We've been working three weeks straight. We aren't going to neglect anything but we'll do things on a case-by-case basis over the weekend," Maroon said.
But winter's not over yet. James Auten of the National Weather Service in Lincoln said Saturday could have some freezing drizzle -- though it's only a scant amount -- and patchy fog. But that'll dissipate as temperatures rise above freezing for the first time in days. Rain will come into the area Sunday night and Monday as temperatures climb into the 50s.
Spring's here right? No. There's snow in the forecast on Tuesday and then some rain possibly on Wednesday.
Mother Nature, it appears, is rather fickle.