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Bitter cold on the way Monday — minus 20 degrees

Wiper blades are pullied up to keep from freezing to the windshield  Thursday morning 1-2-14.  | Kevin Tanaka/For Sun-Times Media
Wiper blades are pullied up to keep from freezing to the windshield Thursday morning 1-2-14. | Kevin Tanaka/For Sun-Times Media

Lots of freezing pipes, long underwear and cars that refuse to start.

These things are expected to arrive Monday along with a cold front that could bring the most frigid weather Chicagoans have ever experienced.

The record of minus 27 was set Jan. 20, 1985.

Monday’s high will be 6 below zero, according to the National Weather service. The low, expected to arrive in the evening, is predicted to reach minus 20, the weather service said.

“Breaking the record is not impossible,” said National Weather Service Meteorologist Gino Izzi.

“And wind chills are just going to be ungodly,” said Izzo, who noted that intermittent gusts up to 30 mph will hit the Chicago area Friday night and stick around for several days, bringing windchills of approaching minus 50.

“It’s conceivable that for 48 hours, or more, it will be below zero,” Izzi said.

Friday morning temperatures in the Loop are expected to be about zero.

Icing issues caused minor delays and nearly 200 flights were cancelled Friday morning at O’Hare International Airport, according to the city’s Dept. of Aviation. Flights also had minor delays at Midway International Airport, where more than 60 flights had been cancelled as of 7:30 a.m.

Temperatures will only show noticeable improvement by midweek, when the highs are forecast to reach into the teens — and even that isn’t close to the normal high for this time of year, which is in the low 30s.

City officials on Thursday strongly urged caution as the cold moves in.

“If the matter can wait until the weather gets warmer, let it wait,” the city Department of Public Health’s Dr. Suzet McKinney told reporters at the Office of Emergency Management on the Near West Side.

The snow that made for a tricky commute stopped falling Thursday evening but may return next week — although forecasters aren’t predicting how much just yet.

Things got so treacherous on the streets Thursday that the city temporarily suspended Divvy bike service — to “protect the safety of our members and staff,” according to a news release. Divvy bikes that had already been rented could still be returned to any available Divvy dock.

The U.S. Postal Service reached out for help, asking customers to clear the snow so that mail carriers could safely navigate sidewalks, steps and porches.

The storm that arrived on New Year’s Eve has dropped 10.9 inches of snow at O’Hare and 12.3 inches at Midway as of on Thursday evening, according to the Weather Service.

The snow provided a happy distraction to loads of sledders and cross country skiers. And it could not stop runners, many of whom took advantage of a plowed lakefront path. “It’s not so bad,” said Stephen Strong, 25, as he ran past Diversey Harbor on a five mile run.

The city’s full fleet of 287 snow plows and salt spreaders — as well as dozens of other smaller vehicles — were out scraping snow from the streets Thursday.

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