Near-Record Cold Has Chicago In Deep Freeze

CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago flirted with record cold Monday morning as temperatures plummeted overnight, reaching well below zero before dawn.

The official temperature for Chicago reached a low of 12 below zero at O’Hare International Airport around 5 a.m. That was just two degrees shy of the Dec. 19 record low of -14, set in 1983.

Ironically, the brutal temperatures in Chicago were even colder than some parts of the actual Arctic. In Barrow, Alaska, for example, the temperature got down to 0 overnight, but not below. Temperatures were also significantly warmer than Chicago in Bismarck, North Dakota, where it was 23 at 5 a.m.; and in Great Falls, Montana, where it was around 30 degrees.

Although several school districts in the Chicago area canceled classes on Monday due to the weather, Chicago Public Schools kept schools open as normal.

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Meantime, commuters were doing their best to stay warm as they waited for buses and trains in the frigid conditions.

Bob Winslow waited in a running SUV until his Metra train arrived in Aurora.

“Most definitely. I don’t want to stand out there, it’s cold,” he said.

Darius Horner moved to Chicago from Florida for his job. He had a seven block walk downtown after getting off his Metra train, so he really piled on the layers of clothing to keep warm Monday morning.

“About six altogether,” he said. “It worked out pretty good. I started layering up at about 4 o’clock.”

The extreme cold was causing some problems for Metra trains. Metra reported delays of up to 20 minutes on several lines due to weather-related problems, including the Metra Electric District, the Milwaukee District-West line, the Rock Island District, the BNSF Railway, the Heritage Corridor, the Union Pacific-Northwest line, and the Milwaukee District-North line.

Monday was also going to be a difficult day for people who have no choice but to work outside, including the guys who haul away your garbage or recycling.

“It’d help a lot if the customers would shovel, because I’ve got to wrestle the garbage cans to the truck, and back to the same spot,” said Navarro Laticker, with Lakeshore Recycling.

His colleague, Rene Medina, said one key to keeping warm in such bitter cold is to not wear too many clothes.

“You have to wear just enough. You don’t want to overdo it, because you will sweat, and you don’t want to do that,” he said

The arctic conditions also led to some power outages in northwest Indiana. According to NIPSCO, approximately 2,000 customers were without power Monday morning in Chesterton and Porter, because of downed power lines caused by the combination of extreme cold and strong winds.

Downed power lines in northwest Indiana also was causing delays on the South Shore Line. At least five trains bound for Chicago were delayed 10 to 15 minutes, according to NICTD.

According to Illinois State Police, there were dozens of crashes over the weekend, amid the bitter cold and a mix of snow, sleet, and freezing rain between Friday and Sunday. Police said there were 105 crashes, with 18 injuries. Approximately 150 to 160 vehicles also were towed or pulled out of snowy conditions on state expressway between Friday and Sunday.

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