Chicago Area Prepares for Severe Weather

The projected snowfall and brutal temperatures are reminiscent of the polar vortex the area experienced in January last year

With more winter weather on the way, NBC Chicago will begin its morning newscast at 4 a.m. Tuesday.

Despite frigid temperatures Monday in the Chicago area, a new round of snow and even colder temperatures has officials on high alert.

With many areas preparing for anywhere from 2 to 5 inches of snow by Tuesday morning, and wind chills dipping near -40 degrees Wednesday, the Office of Emergency Management Center held a news conference Monday afternoon to discuss winter weather preparations and precautions residents should take.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the city plans to deploy its 280 snow plows and salt trucks, along with 20 smaller plows for “tighter spaces.”

“We are going to bring all of the assets and the strengths of the city to bear to make sure that people are safe, secure and that our streets are paved, plowed and passable,” Emanuel said. “And we are going to make sure that whether it’s a warming station or a road sensor, that everything is there for the public and is available for them so that they can have the security and the safety that they know exists.”

Residents can track area snow plows at

Emanuel said Chicago schools are expected to remain open Tuesday, but noted officials will monitor Wednesday conditions on a "minute-by-minute basis."

The projected snowfall and brutal temperatures are reminiscent of the polar vortex the area experienced in January last year.

“As it relates to the weather this week and it is upon us, I do think there’s a page out of last year,” Emanuel said, “Which is that no matter what the weather was last year, Chicago can weather the storm. That will be true this week and it will be true for the rest of the winter.”

The Commissioner for the Department of Streets and Sanitation urged drivers to prepare for a longer commute.

Metra also announced that it will have extra mechanics and personnel on hand overnight to make sure trains run smoothly through the morning rush hour.

Turning to the cold, officials also said the city’s main warming centers will be open as well as overnight shelters, which can “be expanded to house more people during periods of extreme demand.”

“Out of an abundance of caution and because this is the first string of bitter cold temperatures that we have seen so far this season, we are extending warming center hours at our 6 community service center locations from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. through this Friday,” said Evelyn Diaz, the commissioner for the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services.

Officials on Monday asked that residents remember to check on their neighbors and relatives.

“We ask that Chicagoans check on the well-being of other residents, friends and neighbors, especially seniors and those with disabilities,” said Gary Shankle, executive director of the Office of Emergency Management Center.

Gov. Pat Quinn told Illinois state agencies to be on "high alert" ahead of the winter storms, opening state warming centers and directing the Illinois Department of Transportation to ready more than 1,700 plows ahead of the snow.

"The Illinois Department of Transportation is fully prepared to respond to the winter weather heading our way,” Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Erica Borggren said in a statement. “While our top priority always is to make sure our roadways are safe as possible, we also ask the motoring public to pay close attention to the changing conditions."

Other cities, including Gary, Indiana and suburban Naperville were also encouraging residents to prepare for the severe weather.

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