The snow may be over, but a days-long stretch of frigid, subzero wind chills is just beginning in the Chicago area.
Though the snow stopped falling early Tuesday morning, wind chills fell well in to negative temperatures. The wind chill in Chicago was minus 8 degrees at 4 a.m., while the actual temperature stayed steady around 2 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
A wind chill advisory was issued for the Chicago area, effective from 9 p.m. Wednesday until 10 a.m. Thursday. Wind chills will drop to around 20 degrees below zero by 10 p.m. Wednesday and between minus 22 to minus 28 degrees by Thursday morning, the advisory said.
Meteorologists warn that frostbite or hypothermia could occur “within minutes” of exposure to the cold.
Temperatures on Wednesday will reach a high of 16 degrees, with a low of zero, the weather service said. Lower temperatures will come Thursday, with the high between 9 and 10 degrees and a low of minus 5.
Snow is expected to fall Wednesday morning and through the afternoon, accumulating about an inch in Chicago and area suburbs throughout the day, according to the weather service.
As of 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, more than 230 flights were canceled at O’Hare with delays up to 30 minutes. More than 35 flights were canceled at Midway with some flights delayed up to 40 minutes, mainly due to East Coast weather, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation.
The Illinois Department of Transportation warned Tuesday afternoon that road conditions are still dangerous in some parts of the area, though more than 1,300 IDOT trucks are on snow duty throughout the state.
“Due to high winds, blowing and drifting snow is a major concern,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider said in a release. “Motorists are encouraged to take it slow, give plow drivers plenty of room, buckle up and avoid distractions.”
To prepare for the extreme cold, the Illinois Tollway activated 11 Zero Weather Road Patrols Tuesday to help customers stranded in their cars. Seven Illinois Tollway oases also serve as warming centers.
The city’s snow fleet of more than 280 vehicles was deployed to side and residential streets Tuesday afternoon, according to Molly Poppe, spokesperson for the city’s Department of Streets and Sanitation.
Metra posted a service advisory to its website Monday night warning riders of anticipated delays due to the severe weather and urging them to allow extra travel time in the morning.
“Unfortunately, weather conditions beyond our control will create unanticipated delays or service disruptions,” Metra wrote in the alert. “Depending on the severity of conditions in specific areas, your train may experience delays.”
This particular blast of cold air is not the polar vortex itself, but rather a byproduct of the system that regularly moves through Canada and into the United States, meteorologists said.
By Friday, highs in the area are expected to climb to 24 degrees, falling to 15 at night, forecasts show.
Because of the frigid forecast, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart activated the jail’s 24-hour weather hotline. Relatives of inmates can call (773) 674-6618 for information on posting bond and arranging a discharge, his office said in a news release. Detainees who are homeless or do not have transportation may postpone their discharge.