Chicagoans bear frigid temperatures as winter moves in

January 20, 2013 9:02:10 PM PST
The feel of winter has finally arrived in Chicago. It was a rude awakening for many Chicagoans who had adjusted to a warmer winter.

Chicagoans have been lucky with an unusually mild winter with above average temperatures and little to no snow.

As of Sunday it has been a record 331 days since the Chicago area has recorded a snowfall of at least an inch and 329 days without a snow depth of at least an inch.

Many are doing whatever they can to escape the frigid temperatures already beginning to descend on the area.

"I like the fact that I can walk outside and not put on my boots every morning. But it's really cold. Bitter cold. It is what it is," area resident Joey Malek said. The National Weather Service issued alerts warning of an arctic blast.

High winds brought cooler temperatures as strong gusts were blamed for destroying a building under renovation and knocking down scaffolding on North Clark Street.

When temperatures drop, the homeless are most vulnerable.

A warming center on the West Side was an option to take cover for some. But on Sunday the center closed at 6:30 p.m. Many shelters don't open till eight or nine.

"We just ride the L to keep warm until they let us in. And that's it. We're just trying to stay warm," Erica Myles said.

The drop in temperatures doesn't help the sick or those with compromised immune systems.

At St. Anthony's Hospital in Little Village, Dr. Kaleem Malik said they are seeing a steady stream of flu patients.

"We are seeing a good deal of what most ERs are seeing," Malik said. "That is cough, runny nose, respiratory tract infections, fever, fever, fever, body aches, muscle aches."

Dr. Malik warned people to not be complacent about the falling temperatures when going outside.

"Cover the extremities, be mindful of hands, fingers, toes, nose, cheeks, the things we know growing up that exposure to the elements might cause some illness," he said.