Chicago weather: Wind Chill Warning in effect for much of area; CPS closes schools Tuesday

Warming centers open across Chicago area | See full list

ByDiane Pathieu, John Garcia, Tre Ward, Liz Nagy, and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Tuesday, January 16, 2024
LIVE look around Chicago
LIVE look around Chicago

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The dangerous cold is keeping many people inside on Monday, but there are still many cold-related issues.

The cold temperatures will last for the next few days, which means people that have to drive into work have to worry about their commute.

Chicago Public Schools has canceled and rescheduled all events scheduled to be held in their buildings on Monday due to the weather conditions. CPS classes and after-school activities are canceled on Tuesday due to the extreme temperatures. There will be no remote learning.

SEE ALSO | School Closings: Chicago Area Complete List

The Wind Chill Warning is in effect until noon Tuesday for Boone, Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, LaSalle, Lee, Livingston, McHenry and northern and southern Will counties. A Wind Chill Advisory will go into effect for those counties, except Livingston, at noon Tuesday and remain in effect until 9 a.m. Wednesday.

A Wind Chill Advisory is also in effect for eastern Will and Kankakee counties from noon Monday and until 9 a.m. Wednesday.

ABC7 Accuweather Meteorologist Tracy Butler says most of the day Monday will be spent below zero with wind chills from -25 to -35. The dangerous cold temperatures will continue Tuesday before climbing into double digits on Wednesday.


Flood Warning

has been issued for the Kankakee River until next Monday. But already, flood waters have surrounded homes and vehicles along Phillips Road as river waters continue to flow beneath the ice.

A Kankakee River ice jam caused some Wilmington, IL flooding on Phillips Road on Monday. A Flood Warning has been issued for the river this week.

Experts advise if you do not have to leave home, stay indoors. These temperatures can be potentially life-threatening.

Doctors warn, with wind chills this high, frostbite and hypothermia can set in within a manner of minutes. If you do have to head to work and take public transportation, layer up and prepare for a bitter cold start to the day.

Drivers, commuters, travelers stranded

Staying up-to-date on basic maintenance, mechanics say, will save your vehicle.

Chicago drivers know a thing or two about bitter cold, and Aztek Auto Parts on Chicago's Southwest Side has struggled to keep car batteries on the shelf during this deep freeze.

"In this type of weather, either when it's hot or very cold, they stop working," said Aztek Auto Parts and Repair co-owner Filiberto Magallanes.

Aztek Auto Parts on the southwest side has sold roughly 60 car batteries in just the past few days, straining their supply.

If your battery is at the end of its life in this type of cold weather, Magallanes warned, "You're not going to have it on. It's going to fail."

For the most part, Aztek Auto Parts customers seem to have done their due diligence, swapping out car batteries before the sub-zero temperature drains the life out of them. Staying up-to-date on basic maintenance, mechanics say, will save your vehicle.

"Tires, coolant, windshield-washer fluid, wipers and your battery," Magallanes said.

Meanwhile, several Tesla drivers have complained about charging stations not working in these extreme conditions.

From cars that won't start to problems on the CTA, the cold caused some issues for some morning commuters.

Near 95th Street and Western Avenue in Evergreen Park, many Tesla owners were stranded with dead batteries from the cold, and not enough working charging stations at that location.

"Our batters are so cold it's taking longer to charge now, so it should take 45 minutes, it's taking two hours for the one charger that we have," Tesla owner Brandon Welbourne said. "I have seen at least 10 cars get towed away from here because the cars, they died, they've run out of battery. It's too cold, it uses too much of the energy to try to keep the car somewhat reasonable temperature, so everybody is getting towed away and we have nowhere to charge."

In Oak Brook, some drivers came looking for a charge and waited hours.

"Right from outside highway, there's a whole line of cars, about over 20 cars, all Tesla cars, and you can look around here, every single car is a Tesla car full with Tesla cars this whole parking lot and we're waiting and waiting for over an hour," Tesla driver Sajid Ahmed said. "It's unfortunate that this cars are sitting dead in the spots."

For many drivers, it was too late, their cars died during the long wait, and they had to leave their vehicles stranded and wait for the stations to get up and running again.

"I think just someone needs to come out here to make sure things are OK, because it's not OK," Tesla driver John Baldys said.

Drivers weren't the only ones stranded on Monday.

SEE ALSO | CTA, Metra and Amtrak service disrupted amid dangerously cold Chicago weather

There was a major disruption on the CTA's Orange Line Monday morning, when a train derailed near the 35th/Archer station.

The derailment itself was minor, and no one was injured, but there were 20 passengers on board, and those that use the line regularly had to wait around for shuttle buses in the cold.

Metra trains have also had problems in the frigid temperatures. Both inbound and outbound were stopped on Monday afternoon because of switching problems in the cold, causing extensive delays.

Amtrak has also been experiencing issues, leaving some stranded in Chicago.

And passengers stepping outside at O'Hare, fresh off a plane, would be forgiven for mistaking the arrivals lane for a tundra.

Taxi drivers queue up atop frozen, salt-caked lanes, hoping for paying passengers desperate to get out of the cold quickly.

"There's no way you can stay warm. Your legs are numb," said taxi driver Handerson Oliwari.

It was no easy day on the clock for traffic controllers or curbside handlers stuck *outside in the subzero temperatures. Only preparation makes it more bearable.

"Long John's, a couple pair of pants, and I'm not going to lie to you. I've got my pajamas up under here too," said curbside handler Edward Degraffenreid.

It's all about layers and a few rotations under the heat lamps.

"To keep warm. But like I said, it ain't that bad inside. There's a little heater. It ain't that bad. It's not like out here," Degraffenreid said.

Volunteers help people experiencing homelessness

Volunteers are helping people experiencing homelessness stay warm amid dangerously cold Chicago weather.

Volunteers with Chi-Care have been helping some of the most vulnerable, who only have the clothes on their backs and, in some cases, live in tents to protect themselves during the cold weather.

"It's very important to check on them, make sure they're fed, make sure they're alive," said Chi-Care Founder and President Farhan Ahmed.

Chi-Care is an organization that advocates and helps Chicago's homeless population. The group's efforts, are even direr on Monday as bitterly cold temperatures blanket the city.

"We provide heaters and Propanes, also blankets, jackets, everything we can. All the basic necessities that we can provide," Ahmed said.

For those living there, it means much more.

"This weather is so dangerous. I've been here, and people have frozen to death, so it literally is a life saver," said Sean McKee, who is experiencing homelessness.

At the so-called "tent city" near the Dan Ryan Expressway, between Taylor and Roosevelt, people who stay there say the tents aren't enough to keep them warm during the cold days and nights.

"It's unbearable. I've lived in southern parts of the states for a while. It's my first time bearing anything like this," McKee said.

According to city data, last year, more than 6,100 people in Chicago were experiencing homelessness. Of those, 990 were living unsheltered.

"It's tough, because I know the city's trying to do their best, as well, to provide shelter, but I think there's always a chance that we can do more," Ahmed said.

Chi-Care's efforts do not end here. Volunteers plan to put up a warming center later Monday evening.

Warming centers open as temperatures drop

Chicago activated its warming centers through Wednesday.

The centers open when temperatures are 32 degrees. They are available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Warming centers include the Inspiration Corporation at 4554 N Broadway #207, La Casa Norte at 1736 W 47th St, Lincoln Park Community Services at 1521 N Sedwick St, the Matthew House at 3722 S Indiana, the Broadway Youth Center at 1023 W. Irving Park Road and the Covenant House at 2934 W. Lake Street.

The Harold Washington Library has opened the lower level as a 24/7 warming center through Jan. 17 for anyone in need. At least 66 new migrant arrivals have been moved there as they await permanent shelter placement.

The Garfield Center at 10 S. Kedzie is open 24 hours to help families find emergency shelter. The Chicago Department of Family & Support Services has also expanded outreach teams to encourage unhoused residents to seek shelter or warming options as they conduct well-being checks.

Warming centers in Cook County will be open 24/7 through Wednesday.

Warming centers in other Chicago-area counties:

Gary, Indiana said it has also opened warming centers, including the Calumet Township Multi-Purpose facility, Ambridge-Mann Community Center, Brother's Keeper, Restoration House Shelter for Men and Serenity House.

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