Chicago Weather: Wind chill warning, CPS closed Monday, snow emergency in NW Indiana

More than 1,000 schools will be closed Monday, including Chicago Public Schools and most of the major universities in the Chicago area.
January 6, 2014 7:48:10 AM PST
The entire Chicago area is under a wind chill warning Monday after temperatures plunged into dangerous cold the night before. A state of emergency was declared in Northwest Indiana, with only emergency vehicles allowed on area roads until further notice -- due to low visibility and major snow accumulations in Lake County.

Dangerous Cold: How to prepare for winter storms, extreme cold | Winter driving tips | Health, safety tips | Protecting your pets | What you need in your car | What you need to do at home | Chicago Warming Centers

Dangerous cold follows snow storm

Lake County, Indiana officials declared a state of emergency at 4:30 p.m. Chicago time, allowing only emergency vehicles to be on the road "until further notice."

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has closed state offices for Monday and called in additional Indiana National Guard members to help stranded motorists. A winter storm warning is in effect with blizzard-like conditions in Indiana through midnight Monday for Benton, Jasper, Lake, Newton and Porter counties in Ind.

The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) announced the emergency closure of I-94 between the Illinois state line and the U.S. 421 exit (Michigan City). Also, I-65 is closed between U.S. 12/20 (Gary) and mile marker 172 (Lafayette).

South Shore train service has also been canceled for Monday, and busing between South Bend and Michigan City also canceled.

"Those are the areas that have seen the hardest snow," ABC7 Eyewitness News Meteorologist Phil Schwarz said.

In Illinois, a winter storm warning expired at 6 p.m. But what follows could be worse- dangerous cold. Schools canceled classes and some businesses told employees to work from home on Monday in anticipation of subarctic cold. Schwarz said the plummeting temperatures could bring the coldest weather Chicagoans have seen in decades.

"This could be historically cold," Schwarz said.

The transition into a deep freeze starts Sunday evening. Temperatures could drop to 15 to 20 degrees below zero. A wind chill warning went into effect at 6 p.m. Sunday and lasts through 12 p.m. Tuesday for Lake, Lee, DeKalb, Kane, DuPage, Cook, La Salle, Kendall, Grundy and Will counties in Illinois. In Indiana, a Wind Chill Warning remains in effect for Benton, Jasper, Lake, Newton, and Porter counties. In Wisconsin, Kenosha and Racine counties are also under a Wind Chill Advisory.

Municipalities around Cook County have opened warming centers for area residents that need to get in from the extreme cold.

Click here for complete listing of Cook County warming Centers.

Amtrak modifies Monday service in anticipation of extreme cold

Amtrak service to Chicago will be reduced Monday as officials anticipate decreased ridership as a result of the bitter cold expected to blanket the area.

According to a statement from Amtrak, the following trains are canceled:

  • Lincoln Service Trains 300 and 305. Trains 301, 302, 303, 304, 306 & 307 and Trains 21/321 and 22/321 will maintain service on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor.

  • Hiawatha Service Trains 329, 332, 333, 336, 337 and 340. Trains 330, 331, 334, 335, 338 and 339 will maintain service on the Chicago-Milwaukee corridor.- Wolverine Service Trains 352 and 353. Trains 350, 351, 354 and 355 will maintain service on the Chicago-Ann Arbor-Detroit-Pontiac corridor.- Carl Sandburg Trains 381 and 382. Trains 380 & 383 will maintain service on the Chicago-Quincy corridor.

  • Saluki Trains 391 and 392. Trains 390 & 392 and Trains 58 & 59 will maintain service on the Chicago-Carbondale corridor.

Chicago, suburban schools closed Monday

Several suburban schools canceled classes early on Sunday. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) followed suit Sunday evening, as did the Chicago Archdiocese, canceling classes at elementary schools in Lake and Cook counties. Check the list here.

With wind gusts of up to 35 miles an hour, temperatures could feel like negative 40 or 50 degrees on Monday.

Chicago weather conditions are "life threatening," according to National Weather Service Meteorologist Richard Castro. He said, "People should postpone any non-emergency travel during this period of dangerous cold." Dangerous cold health, safety tips.

On Sunday, 1,300 flights at O'Hare Airport were canceled proactively, and 200 flights were canceled at Midway. Air travelers should expect delays. Adler Planetarium, Brookfield Zoo and Shedd Aquarium are closed Monday. Divvy bike stations are closed, too, and the Cook County Jail will not have visits on Monday or Tuesday. No Lincoln Park Zoolights on Sunday.

Crews with the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services are helping the city's most at risk during the cold, tracking down the homeless and those without sufficient shelter.

"If somebody refuses to leave no matter what, we know where they are," Commissioner Evelyn Diaz, Department of Family and Support Services, said. "We are going to take care of Chicago residents."

Anyone who needs help should call 3-1-1.

State, city snow removal fleets out in full force

On Sunday, the heaviest snow fell south of the city and in Northwest Indiana, where a state of emergency was declared. "Until further notice, NO VEHICLES except police, fire and other emergency vehicles are to be on the road," Lake County officials said in a statement at 4:30 p.m.

In some areas in Northwest Indiana, "zero visibility," Schwarz said. Several inches fell in the city and around the Chicago area.

According to Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the state as 1,755 trucks assigned to snow duty across the state. The Illinois Tollway has Zero Weather Road Patrols in place overnight until Tuesday to help stranded motorists. The City of Chicago has deployed its full fleet of snow plows and salt trucks to combat snow in the areas. Commissioner Charles Williams of the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation reminds drivers to be patient.

"Ensuring main streets are clear is essential," Cmsr. Charles Williams said. Residential streets are plowed to make them passable after all the main streets and Lake Shore Drive are clear and the snow has stopped. Williams asked residents who are shoveling out not to dump the snow they remove back into the plowed residential streets.

"Take that snow and throw it on a parkway, instead of a street," Williams said.

When temperatures drop, ice could form on area streets, Williams said.

"Drive for the conditions. . . If you don't have to be out, this is a good time not to be out on the street,"

The city's warming centers will be open for extended hours -- from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. -- Sunday through Tuesday. To get help, the best option is to call 3-1-1.

Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago warned people about the dangers of space heaters and encouraged residents to check their fire alarm and carbon monoxide detectors.

Residents stock up on groceries

In anticipation of the storm, Chicago area residents flocked to the grocery stores to stock up on food. Alexis BernardiReis lives across the street from a North Side Jewell.

"I'd rather survive on avocados and K-Cups than go into that Jewel," BernardiReis said. "It's been insane."

Julie Nakis stopped at a Jewel in River North for milk, popcorn and fruit.

"Everybody was in the same boat," said Nakis, 25. "They just wanted to get their grocery shopping done and not worry about leaving the house tomorrow or Monday."