Biting wind chills, freezing temps continue, but that doesn’t faze some Chicagoans: ‘This is just normal to me’

CHICAGO — Biting wind chills and dangerously low temperatures are expected to continue through midweek across the Chicago area, with the city’s collection site recording 10 degrees below zero Monday morning.

A wind chill advisory remains in place and is expected to be lifted at 9 a.m. Central time Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. High temperatures Monday ranged from minus-6 to 1, with wind chills hitting 35 to 15 degrees below zero.

The freezing air mass is the coldest Chicago has seen in five years, with the last comparable cold snap in January 2019.

“But in terms of magnitude similar to this, you would probably have to go back to 2014,” said meteorologist Ricky Castro.

On Monday afternoon, winds battered the lakefront, snow lined the pavement, and the water’s surface was frozen and frosted white.

Few people walked along the shore. It was just 5 degrees — but Adam Greenstein, who was 3 miles into his 8-mile run, barely noticed.

”I dressed a little warm, actually,” Greenstein, 32, said, unzipping his vest. Icicles dotted his mustache and eyelashes. “My toes are a little cold, though.”

Greenstein is training for the Boston Marathon in April. He runs six or seven days a week and doesn’t have access to a treadmill, he explained.

"Like it’s really not that big of a deal,” the South Loop resident said. “I ran yesterday, and I’ll run tomorrow.”

Further down the lakefront, Vincent Cassano, 54, and Carol Paradiso, 56, walked holding hands, bundled in layers. They met on Tinder and have been dating for five weeks.

”The cold makes me want to go outside,” said Paradiso, a hairdresser. “I’m a true Chicagoan. This is just normal to me.”

The couple were on their way to the Art Institute, which is free to city residents on the holiday.

”Most people stay inside. But for us city folk, it means less crowds,” Cassano said with a laugh.

On State Street, professional dog walker Jonathan Avitia, 32, walked a terrier in pink booties.

The cold isn’t ideal for his job — four of his clients canceled Monday. The dogs that he does walk can only stay outside for 15 minutes.

”I’m working less, but when it’s this cold, I don’t mind,” Avitia said.

He’s been walking dogs since 2018. Some of his clients — like the terrier, 7-year-old Truman — have been with him for years.

”Even in this weather, I like it, because you form relationships,” Avitia said while Truman tugged on his leash. “I love seeing my dogs everyday.”

Wind chills are not expected to rise above minus-10 until Wednesday afternoon. The milder temperatures will continue Thursday before another shot of arctic air hits the region this weekend, the weather service said.

Up to 1 inch of snow is possible south of Interstate 80 Monday night, which could make for slick travel conditions. The coldest weather in the evening is expected in interior northern Illinois, while the warmest will be south of Kankakee River, according to the weather service. The ongoing bitter cold could continue to cause ice jams in flood-prone areas.

At O’Hare International Airport, 246 flights were canceled and 452 were delayed Monday, according to flight tracking service FlightAware. Another 161 flights were canceled at Midway Airport and 70 were delayed. The majority of cancellations at both airports were on Southwest.

A light dusting of snow is also predicted Thursday night through Friday morning, Castro said. Snow is more likely to accumulate in the southern suburbs.

“With how cold the temperatures are, that could be problematic for the Friday morning commute,” Castro said. “There’s still uncertainty on how exactly that plays out.”

The second blast of arctic air, expected to arrive Friday, will keep temperatures in the single digits over the weekend. The wind chill is anticipated to be less slightly severe, ranging from minus-20 to minus-10.

People are urged to stay inside amid the freezing weather, which can cause frostbite to exposed skin in just 10 to 30 minutes. The weather service advised those who do venture out to wear multiple loose, warm layers of clothing.

The city announced that the Garfield Community Shelter would be open 24/7 to connect residents to emergency shelters. The Harold Washington, Sulzer, Woodson and Legler Libraries will also be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the holiday as warming centers. After the holiday, all six of the city’s community service centers will be open as warming centers.

Chicago Public Schools canceled classes Tuesday after canceling Martin Luther King Jr. Day events Monday. According to an announcement posted to the district website, schools are expected to reopen Wednesday.

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson also announced that the enforcement of his 60-day migrant shelter limit policy would be delayed until at least Jan. 22.


(Chicago Tribune’s Caroline Kubzansky contributed to this story.)