Chicago Flirts With, Misses Low-Temp Record

Record low of -13 was set Jan. 28, 1977

Chicago's official air temperature on Tuesday, reported at O'Hare International Airport, came within just a couple of degrees of tying a record set 37 years ago.

The airport recorded a low temperature of -11 before rebounding a couple of degrees. The record low for Jan. 28 was -13 set in 1977.

As of 9:30 a.m., O'Hare reported -8 degrees. And we don't have to tell you: that's cold. Bitter cold. Dangerously cold.

Still, it's not as cold as the record-breaking -16 degrees we experienced just a couple of weeks ago.

The Arctic air arrived Monday morning, with forecast highs below zero degrees for both Monday and Tuesday. Nighttime lows could dip as far as -25 degrees in some areas, with wind chill values sinking to -45.

A Wind Chill Warning that had been in effect through Wednesday morning was canceled early, replaced by a Wind Chill Advisory.

Chicago's average temperature for the winter season so far sits at 20.3 degrees, making it the 13th coldest winter since 1872, according to the National Weather Service. But it could move up in the rankings after this week's cold spell.

The brutal temperatures prompted several schools to cancel classes Monday and Tuesday, including Chicago Public Schools. CPS classes would resume Wednesday, officials said. 

Electricity grid operator PJM Interconnection urged people to conserve energy on Tuesday, especially from 6 to 10 a.m. and from 5 to 9 p.m. Homeowners should postpone using major electric appliances such as stoves, dishwashers and clothes dryers during that time.

Chicago has spent $16.5 million this season for snow removal efforts, city officials said Monday. $10.4 million of that total has been spent on salt alone, however a city spokesman said the budget will remain balanced.

The Peoples Gas Share the Warmth program that provides heating grants to limited and fixed-income households has already issued 10,000 more financial grants this year compared to last year at this time.

Metra engineering and maintenance staff worked 12 hour shifts on Monday, making sure critical switches are clear of snow and ice. Crews were also in over the weekend to keep the train cars powered up.

Amtrak announced a modified schedule for Monday in preparation for bitter temperatures, and Chicago's two main airports reported more than 515 flight cancellations Monday morning.

Illinois State Police issued a traffic alert Sunday afternoon due to hazardous road conditions in several counties.

Indiana drivers were being warned of hazardous conditions on the interstates in Northwest Indiana Saturday morning.

Road conditions, specifically for Interstate 80/94 and Interstate 65 throughout the Lowell State Police District, were "snow-packed, ice and blown over," officials said.

Indiana Department of Transportation crews were salting roads, but officials said the conditions have become "extremely challenging to keep up with."

Police were telling drivers to stay off the roads if possible, and to use caution, slow down and plan for travel delays.

The Illinois Department of Transportation issued a similar warning.

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