Brutal temperatures settled over Chicago Friday morning, but Chicagoans won’t see much falling snow, said National Weather Service meteorologist Kevin Doom.
Flurries are possible, as well as a light snow shower in the evening, he said, but warned that strong winds between 35 to 45 miles per hour will blow the snow that’s already on the ground, creating visibility issues. Later in the afternoon, winds could reach up to 50 miles per hour.
“We’re already seeing a lot of pictures, a lot of videos from people on social media,” Doom said, “(with) very rough road conditions, despite not actually seeing any falling snow, so we don’t want people to be fooled by the fact that there’s really not going to be much falling snow today.”
Wind chills Friday morning reached around 35 to 40 degrees below zero.
“Even during the warmest part of the day, 25 to 35 below wind chills are what we’re looking at and the actual temperature is actually expected to stay below zero,” Doom said.
It’ll get warmer on Saturday and Sunday, but not noticeably so, as wind chills will likely reach below zero during the holiday weekend.
However, if temperatures reach 50 degrees late next week as expected, it could feel up to 90 degrees warmer than it did Friday morning.
“But I mean that’s Chicago weather — we have these big temperature fluctuations. It’s not uncommon in the winter to see something like that. It’s just part of living in Chicago,” Doom said.
Flight cancellations continued Friday morning at Chicago’s airports. As of 9:15 a.m., 348 canceled flights were reported at O’Hare International Airport, and 260 at Midway, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation.
Meanwhile, the Illinois State Police warned bridges and ramps were slick Friday morning, and asked all motorists to slow down and leave plenty of space between vehicles.
A multicar crash on Interstate-294 involving two truck-tractors shut down the southbound lanes at milepost 10. But all lanes recently reopened.
The Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation deployed more than 200 snow vehicles Friday morning to begin clearing residential streets. Salt spreaders had been working since the winter storm began Thursday morning to ensure the roads were safe for emergency vehicles, public buses and motorist, according to a news release.
Chicago residents can view the city’s snow fleet in real time at chicagoshovels.org.
The extreme cold and slick road conditions were expected to remain a factor Friday, an officials urged all residents to take precautions while traveling.
The Chicago Transit Authority reported that the Blue, Orange and Brown lines had delays during Friday morning rush hour because of track switching problems, and shuttle buses replaced Orange Line service between Pulaski and Midway.
The CTA also continued to route 12 bus lines off DuSable Lake Shore Drive Friday.
Health officials advised that people who must go outside should wear a hat, face mask and gloves, as well as three layers covering the upper body and two layers below the waist.
Emily Young, the marketing and communications manager for the Lake County health department, said in an email frostbite and hypothermia are serious potential dangers arising from too much exposure to cold.
Young said numbness, white or grayish skin around a person’s face, fingers and toes are signs of frostbite, as well as waxy skin. Body heat is one good way warm the affected areas. A heating pad is discouraged. Carr said exposure to extreme cold for 10 or 20 minutes can cause frostbite.
Dr. Ninad Dixit, the chief medical officer for Vista Health System in Waukegan, said frostbite and hypothermia can happen very quickly if skin is exposed in extreme cold like the temperatures forecast the next few days.
“If you are out in the cold, self-care could include a warm soak and anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen in recommended dose,” Dixit said in the email. “Don’t use direct heat on the skin. Seek immediate medical attention if there is no improvement.”
Shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech or drowsiness are all symptoms of hypothermia. Young said the treatment is different from that for frostbite.
“Go to a warm room,” Young said. “Warm the center of the body first — chest, neck, head and groin. Keep dry and wrapped up in warm blankets, including the head and neck.”
The Salvation Army Freedom Center, 825 N. Christiana Ave., and Mayfair Community Center, 5020 N. Pulaski Rd., will operate as warming centers Friday and Saturday for residents needing a safe place to shelter during the storm, the Salvation Army said in a news release.
While Cook County courthouses will be closed for most legal business, three courthouse buildings are being opened as warming centers. Those who lack adequate heat can take shelter there starting 5 p.m. Thursday through 8 a.m. Monday. The available locations are:
- Skokie Courthouse: 5600 Old Orchard Road
- Maywood Courthouse: 1500 Maybrook Drive
- Markham Courthouse: 16501 S. Kedzie Ave.
Chicago is also operating warming centers throughout the city. Residents can dial 311 for the location of their nearest warming center.
Friday was already a scheduled nonattendance day for CPS students.
On Thursday, several Chicago area school districts announced closures in preparation for extreme weather.
Some of Chicago’s popular holiday traditions will be closing early due to the expected blizzard-like conditions and extreme cold:
- Adler Planetarium: Closed Friday through Sunday.
- American Blues Theater: Ended its run of “It’s A Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!” Shows for today and Friday are canceled.
- Chicago Botanic Garden: Closed Friday through Sunday. Lightscape is canceled today and Friday. Ticket holders will be contacted by email with more information.
- Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier: Closed Friday and Saturday.
- Chicago History Museum: Closed Friday through Sunday.
- Chicago Transit Authority’s Holiday Bus: Last two runs on #29 State and #J14 Jeffrey Jump — scheduled for Friday — are canceled.
- Christkindlmarket: The Daley Plaza and Aurora locations closed and will not reopen again this season. The Wrigleyville location is closed today through Sunday, but reopens at 11 a.m., Dec. 26.
- Courthouses: Most Cook County courthouse activities will cease on Friday, with the exception of adult bail hearings at the Leighton Criminal Court Building and juvenile detention hearings. The circuit court clerk’s office will also be closed. The Lake County courthouse in Waukegan closed at noon Thursday and was to remain inactive Friday other than remote bond court at 9 a.m. However, the Skokie, Markham and Maywood courthouses are open through Monday morning as warming centers.
- Field Museum: Remains closed Friday. Shortened hours Saturday. Closed Sunday.
- Lakefront Trail: The Park District’s Lakefront Trail has been closed from Oak Street to Ohio Street, and access from the Chicago Avenue underpass will not be available until further notice. Other areas hit by high waves could also be cordoned off by the Park District in the coming days.
- Lincoln Park Zoo: Closed Friday and ZooLights canceled until Saturday.
- McCormick Tribune Ice Rink at Millennium Park: Closed Friday and Saturday.
- Maggie Daley Park Ice Skating Ribbon: Closed Friday.
- Shedd Aquarium: Closed at 2 p.m. today. Closed Friday and Saturday.
- Winterland at Gallagher Way: Closed today through Sunday. Reopens Dec. 26.