CHICAGO — As expected, Chicago got a decent snowfall overnight Monday into Tuesday.
And city officials are monitoring the weather "minute by minute" to determine whether to keep schools open Wednesday as bitter cold blankets the region, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Monday.
"Schools were open today and will be open tomorrow but as it relates to Wednesday, when we you have both snow fall and a temperature drop, we will monitor ... and make a decision with enough time for parents to plan and prepare," Emanuel said.
Tuesday morning, CPS still had no plans to cancel classes on Wednesday, but spokeswoman Lauren Hoffman said officials would continue to monitor the conditions to see if that changes their minds.
After a warmer than usual December, Chicago is finally getting the low temperatures and snow we loved so much last year — and the frigid weather will stick around for most of the week, according to the National Weather Service.
"Snow is expected to start falling in the city between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m," said Chris Mott, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
In earlier reports, the National Weather Service reported snow would fall around 6 p.m. Chicago could be hit with 3 to 6 inches of snow, according to Amy Seeley, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service. Sunday, a little more than 2 inches of snow fell at O'Hare, Seeley said.
Monday morning, temperatures hovered around 3 below zero. A high temperature of 7 to 11 degrees is expected. Temperatures will be in the single digits or below freezing all week, Seeley said.
During a Monday news conference, Emanuel said Chicago Public Schools are expected to be open as usual Tuesday, but city officials would monitor weather conditions to decide on Wednesday, when the high temperature will only reach 4 degrees.
Chief Operating Officer for CPS Tom Tyrell said the number one job was making sure children get to and from school safely. "We have a veteran team, last year we successfully negotiated some extreme weather events. We have refined those plans over the months...and spent winter break going and making sure all the equipment was working. We will continue to monitor the forecast and when local conditions [become dangerous] that we need to protect our students by closing schools, we will make that recommendation."
Last year, the city closed schools for four days due to extreme cold.
In preparation for the snowfall, Emanuel's office said the Department of Streets and Sanitation is ready to deploy more than 280 snowplows and salt spreaders, along with 20 small salt snowplows.
Commissioner of Streets and Sanitation Charles William said "crews will be out clearing snow as it falls, any ice build we will be using salt and we are hoping to get a head of that so that shouldn't be an issue. The salt should continue to work six or seven below, so we will have a lot of salt on the streets to prevent icing."
During a Monday news conference, city commissioner Felicia Davis said the city has "all hands on deck" to tackle the streets.
The snow should subside by rush hour Tuesday morning, but commuters should watch out for 20-mph winds that could cause some blowing snow, Seeley said.
Commuters Tuesday morning also can expect wind chills of 15 to 30 degrees below zero, the National Weather Service said.
A winter weather advisory warns commuters to bundle up tight, as frostbite can occur in minutes in weather like this.
Blue Line riders also should expect delays during their morning commute after a mechanical problem with a train at the Forest Park station. Trains are moving, but riders should allow extra time for the commute, according to the CTA.
At least 50 flights have been canceled at O'Hare Airport. Despite the cancelations, both Midway and O'Hare still are experiencing "normal operations." No flights have been canceled at Midway, according to the city's Aviation Department.
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