Daywatch: Chicagoans face winter storm head-on

Good morning, Chicago.

Thursday brought the first major winter blast of the season, disrupting travel, upending holiday planning and shuttering much-loved holiday attractions including the city’s Christkindlmarket.

Chicagoans found themselves once again steeling themselves against Mother Nature’s wintry embrace, whether it was battling crowds at the grocery store to stock up before the Christmas holiday weekend or braving the frigid elements to help neighbors clear their driveways.

Despite the severe weather, Chicagoans faced the winter storm head-on.

Today, the area can expect gusty winds of 40 to 50 mph that will create blowing and drifting snow, according to the National Weather Service Chicago. Friday’s high temperature is predicted to be 3 degrees with the wind making it feel more like 30 to 40 degrees below zero. Get the latest weather updates.

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Illinois population shrank by 104,000 residents in a year, third highest loss in the country

The U.S. Census Bureau reported Thursday that Illinois shrank by an estimated 104,000 residents from 2021 to 2022, a contraction surpassed only by New York and California. The estimates suggest Illinois is an outlier in the Midwest, as all surrounding states notched modest population gains.

While some were quick to pounce on the figures as a sign of the state’s decline, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office issued caution.

Purdue trustees reprimand Keon in wake of fallout from graduation comments mocking Asians

Purdue University Northwest Chancellor Thomas Keon has been formally reprimanded by the university’s Board of Trustees after he made a racist remark at a graduation ceremony nearly two weeks ago.

The announcement made Thursday stressed that Keon has acknowledged his mistake, and the trustees believe the remark does not reflect a pattern of behavior. However, “the Board has made clear to him that a repeat incident of a similar nature would provide grounds for further Board action, including possible dismissal,” a Purdue University West Lafayette spokesman said.

The most Bear weather ever? How some Chicago Bears fans are preparing to stay warm at Soldier Field in harsh conditions.

There’s cold, and then there’s Soldier Field-in-late-December cold. Bear weather, they call it.

For those unfamiliar with the phrase, many — including iconic coach Mike Ditka — believe the wintry conditions put Bears opponents at a disadvantage. But the Bears have gone only 6-4 in the 10 coldest games at Soldier Field since they moved there in 1971. And Saturday’s game against Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills could crack that frigid list.

With move from longtime Clybourn Avenue home to The Salt Shed, can Goose Island recapture what once made it essential?

Goose Island Beer Co. was nothing short of revolutionary when it opened in 1988 on an industrial strip of Clybourn Avenue about 2 miles northwest of downtown Chicago.

But next year, the brewpub will leave its original location to move into a new home at The Salt Shed, the high-profile $50 million music venue. The move is meant to put Goose Island back in the heart of the action.

An insider’s Christmas guide to The Walnut Room and one of Chicago’s best holiday traditions

One of the most historic restaurants in the city has become beloved for more than its food.

“The Walnut Room is best known for its holiday tradition,” says executive chef Brad Saylor, as a 45-foot Christmas tree towers in the middle of his dining room. “We just celebrated our 115th anniversary, so we go back as one of the oldest restaurants in Chicago. I call ourselves the protector of traditions.”

I hate the inflatable Santa (and Frosty, Minion and Yoda) in your front yard

“I don’t condone vandalism, theft, violence or playing tattletale on your neighbors; with the most transgressive acts against holiday inflatables, the intention was likely a mean prank,” writes Christopher Borrelli. “But I do find myself siding with House Beautiful magazine, which has called the popularity of inflatable Christmas decorations on front lawns no less than an ‘epidemic.’ ”

“By day, the holiday inflatables in many Chicago-area neighborhoods lay flaccid on dead grass, like colorful garbage that blew in while you were at work. By night, they bob and quiver and steal your attention with every light breeze, turning even the most tasteful cul-de-sac into a car dealership.”