CHICAGO (WLS) —
The Chicago area is experiencing dangerously cold temperatures Wednesday morning.
Temperatures at O’Hare Airport were at -22 with wind chills of -49 Wednesday morning, which is a record low for January 30. A Wind Chill Warning is in effect for the Chicago area until noon Thursday, with wind chills between -36 to -50, which can result in frostbite within minutes.
Wind gusts between 25-25 miles-per-hour are also resulting in blowing and drifting snow.
The record for the coldest day in Chicago was December 24, 1983, with an average temperature of -18 degrees recorded at O’Hare. The coldest temperature ever recorded in Chicago was -27 on January 20, 1985. The coldest high temperature ever recorded in Chicago was -11 on Dec. 24, 1983 and Jan. 18, 1994.
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The overnight low Wednesday could challenge the record low temperature for Chicago of -27. The high temperature for Wednesday was -10, which was near the record of -11.
The high for Thursday is expected to be -1 with snow developing late. Temperatures will warm up on Friday, with a high of 19 degrees and a low of 11 degrees.
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The Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications says 15 agencies are at its command center to coordinate responses tot he cold, including the fire department, police department, CTA and ComEd. The city says it has five warming buses to offer people cover from the weather. Also outreach workers are working around the clock to connect homeless residents with shelter.
More than 270 warming centers are available throughout the city in every neighborhood. You can find them at libraries, park houses, community centers, police stations and churches.
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Contact 311 for immediate assistance. The city says no one in need of shelter or help will be turned away.
CLICK HERE for our full ABC7 AccuWeather Forecast
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker issued a disaster proclamation for the entire state. Crews are working in three-man pairs due to the cold.
“This storm poses a serious threat to the well-being of people around the state, and we will use every tool at our disposal to keep our residents safe,” Pritzker said. “This disaster proclamation ensures that the state of Illinois has the flexibility to effectively and efficiently respond to the needs of local governments during this extreme weather event.”
A water main break on Howard Street east of California Avenue led to cars being encased in ice. The Water Department responded to the scene and shut the water off.
As of 7:40 a.m., ComEd reports that 24,000 people are without power systemwide, mostly in the south suburbs down to Streator. Customers can text OUT to 26633 or call 1-800-EDISON (1-800-334-7661) to report an outage. Spanish-speaking customers can call 1-800-95-LUCES (1-800-955-8237).
SCHOOLS CLOSED DUE TO COLD
Chicago Public Schools will close schools Wednesday and Thursday due to the cold. The temperatures could present a hazard for children traveling to and from school, CPS said. CPS buildings will also be closed Wednesday and Thursday due to the weather and all after school activities are canceled.
School Closings: Chicago Area Complete List
Some suburban school districts, including Niles and Plainfield, have announced that schools are closed Wednesday and may even be closed Thursday as well.
Northwestern University will be closed until 12 p.m. Thursday due to the extreme cold. The university will continue to provide “essential services” including policing, facilities management and residence hall dining.
CLICK HERE FOR A MAP OF CHICAGO’S PEDWAY
The University of Chicago has canceled all classes and non-essential activities for Wednesday due to the cold.
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Columbia College Chicago announced it be closed Wednesday due to the weather. The closure applies to all academic and business operations of the campus. DePaul University has cancelled classed for Wednesday.
COLD TEMPS AFFECT PUBLIC TRANSIT, TRAVEL; AMTRAK CANCELS TRAINS
Amtrak has canceled all trains originations to and from Chicago for Wednesday and Thursday due to the extreme cold, including short-distance corridor trains and long-distance overnight trains, the agency said. Trains that originated on Tuesday will complete their trips to or from Chicago.
Amtrak typically operates 55 trains daily to and from the Chicago hub.
One man got all the way to Union Station and then he found out he’d have to find another way to get home to New Mexico.
“It’s frustrating,” Jason Nichols said. “I’m trying to get home. Every place I go, it’s higher and higher and higher just to get a ticket.”
Metra said all lines will operate on alternate schedules due to the extreme cold. Click here for the extreme weather alternate schedules for every Metra line. The modified schedule will extend through Thursday and could change further depending on conditions.
Metra has suspended Metra Electric line because of wire problems. Metra says customers should consider alternate transportation including the Rock Island line or the CTA.
In order to keel the tracks from contracting, Metra has deployed crews to set fires along switches. Wednesday morning, Metra UP West trains are running 10-30 minutes late because of the extreme cold.
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The South Shore Line said service is suspended for Wednesday due to the extreme weather. A determination has not been made for Thursday, and click here for more information on the South Shore Line.
For some people with disabilities Pace buses are a lifeline. Deputy Executive Director said 1,200 buses were running 97 percent on time Tuesday afternoon, but subscription rides – regularly scheduled pickups and drop offs for appointments – are canceled due to cold.
“We ask our customers to check ahead if the location they are going is open to make sure they need to travel,” Metzger said. “If they don’t have to travel, don’t do it. We want them to think about having to travel – if it’s too dangerous out there, don’t do it.”
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Riders who must travel should call Pace to reschedule their appointments for Wednesday and Thursday.
In Chicago, Lyft is offering free rides to warming centers using the code CHIJAYDEN19, up to $25 per ride, through Friday.
The Illinois Department of Transportation has increased its highway patrols to help drivers in distress. IDOT Minutemen patrolmen like Ricky Soto will be driving the expressways, especially overnight, to assist any driver in trouble or who may be stranded.
IDOT is also deploying a warming van to respond to people in need.
“It could be dead batteries, tires. Some people, their tires are as bald as my head,” Soto said.
“It’s very important that people stay in their vehicles. We don’t want people exiting their vehicles in traffic and especially in conditions like this,” said Guy Tridgell, IDOT spokesman.
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The Illinois Tollway is also ready for the cold, and is reminding drivers that all oases are open 24 hours and can serve as warming centers.
If you must drive Wednesday and Thursday, Soto said be prepared: make sure your tires have enough air, and check your battery and alternator.
“Carry a blanket, a few blankets, depending on how many people travel with you, food, also some hand warmers,” he said.
FLIGHTS CANCELLED AT CHICAGO AIRPORTS:
More than 1,000 flights have been cancelled at Chicago’s airports. As of 7:40 a.m., at O’Hare, 1166 flights have been cancelled and 324 flights have been cancelled at Midway.
GOVT. OFFICES, EVENTS ALSO CANCELED DUE TO COLD
The Lincoln Park Zoo will be closed Wednesday and Thursday for the safety of animals and visitors, except for several species acclimated to the climate, like polar bears. The Shedd Aquarium and the Museum of Science and Industry are also closed Wednesday due to the cold. Both expect to reopen Thursday, but will make that decision at a later time.
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Wednesday night performance of Disney on Ice at the United Center has been cancelled because of the dangerous cold. People with tickets can contact the United Center or Ticketmaster regarding refunds and tickets for upcoming performances.
Courthouses in Cook, DuPage, Lake, Kane, McHenry and Will counties will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday. Illinois Secretary of State Offices will also be closed Wednesday. Early voting at the Loop Supersite will also be closed Wednesday.
The United States Postal Service has suspended delivery for Wednesday for the following 3-digit zip codes:
Indiana: 460-469, 472-475, 478, 479
Central Illinois: 601, 603 – 605, 609, 613, 614, 616, 617
Michigan: 486-491, 493-499
COLD WEATHER TIPS:
The dangerous deep freeze can also make it difficult to keep your home warm. To avoid a loss in heat experts recommend replacing your furnace filter and keeping vents clear. Also lower blinds and close drapes.
Take precautions for your home for the deep freeze
Before going to bed, raise your thermostat a few degrees to help offset the inevitable loss of heat. If you have a high-efficiency furnace, clear the intake and exhaust of snow and ice, which could pose a carbon monoxide danger.
To keep your pipes from freezing, experts say to trickle your faucets. If they still freeze, never thaw pipes with an open flame. Use a hairdryer instead.
If you’ll be out driving during the deep freeze, experts say to make sure your vehicle is ready for it.
Keep your tank at least half-full, replace the car battery if it’s old and add some extra air in your tires.
Officials recommended drivers plan their route in advance and tell others where they are going. Lastly, keep your cell phone charged in case something happens.
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