CHICAGO — After a mostly mild season with a record-setting lack of snow, it's finally starting to feel like winter in the city as temperatures take a big plunge.
An alert issued by the National Weather Service warned Chicagoans of wind chills that could reach 20 to 25 degrees below zero Monday evening heading into Tuesday morning.
"[The advisory is] not to be taken lightly," said National Weather Service meteoroligist Richard Castro.
Those who must go outside are cautioned to bundle up against a potentially nasty combination of gusts and already near-freezing temperatures that could cause frostbite within 30 minutes this evening, Castro said.
"Even during the day time today, it wouldn't be good to be out there for a long period of time," said Castro, who pointed out that temperatures are set to steadily drop throughout the day.
The service also predicts some flurries Monday, with a 40 percent chance of snow on Thursday.
In the Loop Monday morning, people bundled up against the cold as they walked to work.
Gabriela Almonte, standing on the corner of Washington and Dearborn, said she is having a tough time getting used to the colder temperatures.
"I'm dying. I'm going to die," Almonte said and laughed. "Basically, I want to cry it's so cold."
But as far the forecast calling for below-zero temperatures Monday night, Almonte said it is already so cold it makes no difference to her.
"It's Chicago," Almonte said. "You know, ten degrees or negative ten degrees, it doesn't really make a difference, right?"
The weather might come as a bit of a shock to a city that hasn't dipped below zero or seen an inch of snow in months. Snow hasn't measured an inch at O'Hare for some 330 days. Close calls have canceled flights and warned of snowstorms that never came.
Willie Dickerson, who spends his days sitting outside the McDonald's on Wabash Avenue in the Loop, said he has no plans of changing his routine because of the weather.
"I've been here for 14 years, right here," Dickerson said as he held out a red Styrofoam cup and offered blessings to passers-by. "I'm going to stick it out."
Dickerson said he plans to stay where he is because he has "been through worse," like 2011's "snowpocalypse."
"Let me share something with you, brother. When you're out here like this, you've got to prepare yourself for all things, the good and the bad," Dickerson said.
But in the same breath, Dickerson still couldn't help but say what most Chicagoans were thinking.
"It's cold as heck out here!"