Bitter cold settles into Chicago area

January 21, 2011 9:24:00 AM PST
Residents in the Windy City are dealing Friday with some of the coldest weather all season.

Bitterly cold temperatures and strong winds are making any trip outside an adventure.

A windchill advisory for the area expired at 11 a.m. Friday, but frigid conditions stuck around.

The last time temperatures were just as low in the Chicago area was January 3, 2010. So, residents should take extra precautions Friday, including dressing in layers and limiting the skin's exposure to the cold.

The City of Chicago's warming centers are open and ready to accommodate those wanting to escape the conditions. The main warming center at 10 S. Kedzie will be open around the clock. Addresses for all six warming centers can be found here.

"We're prepared for it. We have a team of emergency service folks here ready to go out and service our citizens at any given time. So, we're ready for it," said Sam Bunville, Dep. Commissioner, Family Support Services.

With windchills in the 20-below-zero range, there were fewer people walking to work Friday morning.

"Brrrrrr. It's very cold. I knew I needed to bundle up very well," commuter Arlene Beck told ABC7 Chicago.

"Ugh. I have more layers than I know what to do with. I got it all covered," said commuter Jennifer Needham.

"It's so cold out. I'm just dressing in layers and trying to keep warm the best way that I can," said Dave Wave, another commuter.

Bundled up and painfully cold, many folks heading to work fought for taxi cabs outside Union Station, like Laura Goode who commutes into downtown.

"I walk seven blocks everyday," she said. "This morning I had my husband drop me off at the train station, and I'm just not even gonna brave it."

The coldest part of the day was just before the sun came up when ABC7 tried a little experiment to see how fast water would freeze into ice. It only took about 25 minutes.

The sub-zero conditions made for a beautiful scene at Monroe Harbor. Inch-deep sheets of ice covered the surface, allowing birds to walk on water.

Regardless of the frigid temperatures, at least one runner wasn't intimidated by the cold.

"Because I love running it makes me feel good, even in this crazy weather," April Wooley said.

Chicago-area residents are encouraged to check on the elderly and also to take care of their pets during the cold snap. The Anti-Cruelty Society advises keeping all pets inside, as they can also suffer from frostbite and hypothermia within minutes.

Under the icy cityscape, maybe residents can start dreaming about spring, which is making an early entrance at the Lincoln Park Conservatory. The annual spring flower show opens Saturday, and it's a nice escape.

The coldest day ever recorded in Chicago was January 20, 1985. Temperatures dipped to 27 below zero with a windchill of -87 degrees.

The hottest temperature recorded in Chicago, by the way, was 109 degrees in July 1934.