Arctic blast pushes into Chicago area
December 9, 2009 (WLS) -- A blast of arctic air is whipping through the city and across Lake Michigan as the Chicago area experienced the coldest night of the season so far. Much of the Chicago area hit overnight lows in the single digits.
First came the snow-- now bone-chilling air and single-digit temperatures in some areas. Temperatures have already started dropping in Chicago and they are going to get much lower.
Throughout the day on Wednesday there was melting snow, lots of slush and then the temperatures started to drop- the wind began to blow, and for Chicago's Streets and Sanitation that has meant all hands on deck.
They are loading up heavy tonight. The idea is to lay the salt on thick. The streets are plenty wet. The mercury is plummeting and the fear is black ice.
On Wednesday night city officials said the arterials looked pretty good. The plows will turn their attention in the early morning hours to the side streets with priority attention to those streets near schools, police and fire stations.
"In the truck cab, they have routes. When those are completed they will be instructed to go to the residential areas for salting of the streets in the grids they have assigned to them," said Tom Byrne, Chicago Dept. of Streets and Sanitation.
In the far western suburbs the wind and blowing snow was a big problem. On Wednesday night, the weather contributed to an accident involving an amublance. The injuries were not life-threatening.
The wind downtown on Wednesday night was more of an annoyance.
"I don't think the snow is so bad but the wind is wicked," said a downtown pedestrian.
At O'Hare, 100 flights were cancelled. Wednesday brought many delays largely due to weather conditions out east. The dropping temperatures didn't prevent chores.
Mariana Khadar bought a bag salt on Wednesday night.
"I have tenants living in my building. I wouldn't want them falling on those icy steps," said Khadar.
Pat Owca is reawakening a cold-weather-driving style.
"I drive like an old lady in the weather, like a very old lady who can barely see out to windshield," said Owca.
Pat said he meant no offense but just that he's being cautious.
Cold weather precaution doesn't preclude people from shopping for Christmas trees.
It's not too cold yet so I thought I'd run out and get one and decorate it tomorrow and be all set," said Susan Cook.
Warming centers available
Chicago officials are trying to get out the word that there is help available for people who need it during a cold spell. Six warming centers are open, including the 24-hour facility at 10 S. Kedzie.
City officials are asking all residents to check in on relatives or friends who are elderly or in bad health.
"Anyone needing assistance, and who is concerned about a neighbor, a relative or a friend please call 311 to request a well being check," said Arlene Ortiz, Dept. Of Family and Support Services.
The Department of Streets and Sanitation is advising drivers to be careful as the weather settles in.
Roads are expected to be slick Wednesday night as temperatures fall well below freezing.
The snowy weather is creating some big travel troubles at Chicago's airports. More than 100 flights were cancelled at O'Hare Wednesday, mostly because of weather problems that have now hit the East Coast. As of 4 p.m., there were 30-minute delays as crews deiced the planes.
At Midway, airlines were also reporting delays up to a half-hour. About 25 flights were cancelled at Midway Wednesday.
Temperatures drop downtown
Chicago might not have seen as much snow overnight, temperatures will continue to drop throughout the day.
The city has 1,000 monitors and it keeps an eye on everything at its Streets and Sanitation Department to track the conditions, and they also use sensors on the ground to detect ice and snow. If the wet conditions turn icy, 175 snow fighter trucks will be ready.
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