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updated: 1/31/2013 6:08 AM

Winter whiplash? Weather goes to extremes

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  • On Tuesday, 3-year-old Madalynn Kerley, sister Melody, 4, and mother Michelle, all of Palatine, enjoyed the swing and 60-degree temperatures at North School Park in Arlington Heights. On Wednesday, snow and freezing rain moved in.

      On Tuesday, 3-year-old Madalynn Kerley, sister Melody, 4, and mother Michelle, all of Palatine, enjoyed the swing and 60-degree temperatures at North School Park in Arlington Heights. On Wednesday, snow and freezing rain moved in.
    George LeClaire/gleclaire

 
Associated Press

Residents in the Chicago area been whiplashed by recent weather extremes. Workers who suffered through subzero temperatures and brutal wind chills a week ago strolled through downtown without coats Tuesday as temperatures soared into the mid-60s.

Carol Krueger, who lives in Hoffman Estates, noted that just a few days ago she was struggling to drive through blowing snow. All she needed Tuesday was a light jean jacket, although the suburbs saw high winds and snow today. Today''s high is expected to be in the teens.

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"It's bizarre, it's scary," Krueger said of the swiftly changing weather.

On Monday, the National Weather Service predicted a "moderate" risk of severe weather more than 24 hours out, only the fifth time it had done so in January in the past 15 years, said Gregory Carbin, the director of the Storm Prediction Center.

A system pulling warm weather from the Gulf of Mexico was colliding with a cold front moving in from the west, creating volatility.

The nation has had its longest break between tornado fatalities since detailed tornado records began being kept in 1950, according to the Storm Prediction Center and National Climatic Data Center. The last one was June 24, when a person was killed in a home in Highlands County, Fla. That was 220 days ago as of Tuesday.

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