Next Up: “Bitterly Cold” Temps

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Full Coverage: Blizzard 2011

Brace yourself for Chicago's next winter challenge: frigid temps.

Nearly two hours ahead of schedule, the National Weather Service canceled a blizzard watch that started 3 p.m. Wednesday and rode out 20.4 inches of snow.

Now, that brutal warning has been replaced with a wind chill watch from 9 p.m. Wednesday through Thursday morning.

Current wind-chill temperatures are expected to plunge, dipping as low as five degrees below zero downtown and 20 below zero in the surrounding area. If strong winds persist, temps could go as low as 40 degrees below the zero mark, according to the National Weather Service.

Strong winds continue to cause drifting snow, but that's expected to weaken as the day goes on.

The deluge of snow and wind Tuesday evening knocked out power to tens of thousands of customers. It also blew out windows and delayed many commuters.

On Lake Shore Drive, hundreds of cars became stuck in the snow, and drivers were stranded there for hours.

And the snow just kept coming. O’Hare International Airport saw 10.6 inches of snow between about 6 p.m. and midnight Wednesday and had a foot of snow on the ground at 12:20 a.m., according to a National Weather Service snow depth report.

Expressways were closed in surrounding counties. It got so bad Wednesday morning that Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle declared a state of emergency in Cook County and Gov. Quinn called in more troops from the Illinois National Guard.

The storm has now moved north of Chicago, but weather remains at the top of the mind.  Cleanup could prove much harder with a layer of ice in tow.

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