Chicago Weather: Dangerously cold temperatures after weekend snow

January 26, 2014 (CHICAGO)

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

A Winter Weather Advisory was issued until 6 a.m. Monday for snow and blowing snow, with 2 to 4 inches forecast by Sunday evening. After that, temperatures are forecast to nosedive overnight into Monday. The National Weather Service has issued a wind chill warning that will take effect from 3 a.m. Monday to 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Illinois State Police said late Sunday night that due to white out conditions drivers are being urged to stay off the roads in Kankakee, Iroqouis and Ford Counties.

All Chicago Public Schools will be closed Monday due to the extreme cold, officials announced Sunday. CPS also says it will decide by 12 p.m. Monday if classes will resume Tuesday.

MORE: Emergency and School Closings

The Museum of Science and Industry, the Adler Planetarium and the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago have all announced they will be closed to the public Monday due to the coming extreme temperatures.

A nearly 50 degree temperature plunge began Sunday night windchills could fall to 30-40 degrees below zero at times.

The children of Skinner North among the 400,000 CPS students who won't be going to school tomorrow. And for many families, a day off from school for the kids means a day off from work for a parent.

As howling winds and blowing snow usher in the new round of dangerous weather Sunday night, building engineer Daniel Vela came to Belding Elementary School to check on the school's boilers.

"No frozen pipes," he said. "We don't want any problems that cause damage and cost to the taxpayer."

The move to cancel Monday classes at Belding and all other Chicago schools was announced at noon Sunday by the head of CPS, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who in a statement said: "The safety and well-being of our students is paramount."

The decision leaves some parents scrambling to find child care but CPS parent Dave Ross says safety trumps inconvenience.

"I think it's a good decision, and I expect the same decision made on Monday for the following day," Ross said.

Throughout the day, the list of school closings grew longer.

Among the suburban districts canceling classes is Deerfield, whose superintendent was glued to the forecast.

"That windchill warning changes things just a bit for us, and raises our concern level, and we don't want to put any of our staff or our students in harm's way," Mike Lubelfeld said.

As conditions deteriorated many headed to grocery stores to pick up final provisions.

"The shelves are not fully stocked, but they're kept up pretty well," said Angel Font.

Some school districts have already decided to cancel Tuesday classes as well, though CPS, Deerfield, and many other districts will make that decision Monday.

The city of Chicago said its Department of Streets and Sanitation deployed 200 snow plows and salt spreaders to main streets and Lake Shore Drive early Sunday. Officials said the snow plow fleet would focus on clearing and salting arterial streets before moving to residential streets.

Sub-zero temperatures to make travel challenging

"You're not going to drive in, so you don't have any other option," said Metra commuter Juan Garza.

Here we go again. "Chiberia" Round 2 is on its way and commuters are already preparing for what could be a challenging couple of days getting to and from work. Metra riders, already stung from switching problems that resulted in long delays and long platform waits last time, say they expect more of the same.

"I don't think I'm going to leave any earlier," Garza said. "I'm just going to leave on time and assume everybody is going to be running late. You put on an extra layer, an extra pair of socks, an extra sweater, try to bundle up and stay warm."

In a statement released on its website Metra acknowledges that "trains are likely to be delayed" adding that "in the interest of safety, we will be operating at reduced speeds to reduce stress on the rails." Metra also warns users of longer boarding times, but says additional personnel will be on hand to keep switches operational and trains ready for service.

CTA meanwhile says its planning on running a normal schedule for both buses and trains tomorrow, though they admit that keeping the trains running on schedule will be more of a challenge, adding they will be posting service updates online at and through CTA Train Tracker and Bus Tracker systems.

"Throughout the evening and overnight hours CTA will be running diesel locomotives throughout the system to clear snow and ice. And on the trains we have trains that spread de-icing fluid onto the third rail."

Adding to the transportation dilemma, both Amtrak and South Shore trains have already announced delays and cancellations for Monday, as well. And while most workers don't have that luxury, many are once again being given the day off or the opportunity to work from home.

"I work all the way in Berwyn so I take two hours' worth of trains and buses every day, so it's nothing," said commuter Kathleen Nussbaum. "I have to travel in the frozen weather on Tuesday, so I take a break (Monday)."

"I was going to go in, but I was told, don't worry, it's not worth it, so I can just stay home and stay warm," said Courtney Aubrecht.

The latest round of severe winter weather was causing problems at the city's airports Sunday.

More than 200 flights had been proactively cancelled at O'Hare International Airport as of 10:30 a.m. on Sunday due to snowy conditions, according to the city's Department of Aviation. At least 75 flights have been cancelled at Midway Airport.

Travelers are advised to check their flight status before heading to the airports.

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