Brutal cold lingers in Chicago, warming centers open - KMSP-TV

Brutal cold lingers in Chicago, warming centers open

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Despite frigid temperatures and falling snow, Wednesday morning's commute was relatively smooth throughout the city and suburbs.

As of Wednesday morning, about three inches of snow had fallen in southwest suburban Yorkville, according to the National Weather Service. West suburban Plainfield saw 2.3 inches of accumulation, and as of 6 a.m., six-tenths of an inch had fallen at Midway Airport.

Chicago had more than 250 plows and 26 smaller four-wheel-drive plows deployed throughout Wednesday's morning rush, according to a statement from the Dept. of Streets & Sanitation. As of 9:30 a.m., plows had been redeployed onto residential streets after clearing main streets and Lake Shore Drive.

The Illinois Tollway deployed its full fleet of 182 snowplows overnight. Seven oases along the Tri-State Tollway, Jane Addams Memorial Tollway, and Reagan Memorial Tollway are serving as warming centers Wednesday.

A jackknifed semi on the TriState Tollway in north suburban Deerfield was one of a handful of major crashes on the roads Wednesday morning that temporarily snarled traffic. The crash happened around 8:40 a.m. on I-294 near Lake Cook Road, and the driver of the semi was hospitalized for minor injuries.

A few hours earlier on I-80/94 in Gary, Ind., lanes were closed for a few hours after a crash involving three semis and a car, according to Indiana State Police. No one was injured and police believe the accident was caused by slick conditions.

Chicago Police said no major crashes were reported along the city's roads during the morning commute.

Travel in the air was also fairly smooth Wednesday morning — as of 7:30 a.m., flights were on time at O'Hare and there were only minor delays on a few airlines at Midway.

Though the Winter Weather Advisory expired at 10 a.m. Wednesday, a Wind Chill Advisory has been issued starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday through 5 a.m. Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

Temperatures are expected to "free-fall" from about 20 degrees in the morning to about 9 degrees in the afternoon, meteorologist Gino Izzi said. With wind chills, it will feel as low as 8 below zero. Temperatures will actually dip below zero Wednesday night, with wind chills as low as 17 below.

In Chicago, representatives of departments from Streets & San to Family and Support Services warned residents at a news conference Tuesday to prepare and take precautions during a cold snap expected to stick around at least through week's end.

"City departments are prepared to clean streets . . . and perform well-being checks . . . and we ask residents to help prepare . . . [and] check on their neighbors during extreme temperatures, and to call for assistance when necessary," Emergency Management & Communications Director Gary Schenkel said.

Family and Support Services' six community service centers citywide will double as warming centers from 9-5 p.m. weekdays when temperatures fall below 32 degrees, officials said. However, its Garfield center at 10 S. Kedzie will be open 24 hours to connect residents to emergency shelters.

Thursday is expected to be partly sunny with a high of 19 and wind chill values as low as -11, according to the weather service. Friday will be mostly cloudy and warmer, with a high around 28.

The next significant snowfall will arrive over the weekend, with a few inches of snow possible Friday night into Saturday, according to the weather service. The heaviest snow is expected to fall south of I-80.

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