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With 50+ Inches Of Snow Expected This Winter, Here's How To Prepare

By Joe Ward | November 18, 2016 12:12pm | Updated on December 5, 2016 8:13am
 Despite unseasonably  high temperatures so far, Chicago is expecting a frigid and stormy winter season.
Despite unseasonably high temperatures so far, Chicago is expecting a frigid and stormy winter season.
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Isaac Silver

WEST LOOP — Despite unseasonably high temperatures so far, Chicago is forecast to have a frigid and stormy winter season.

City officials are asking Chicagoans to take precautions now. Here's what you need to know to survive winter in Chicago.

The forecast

Call it Chiberia's revenge. This winter's forecast calls for much more frigid weather and snow than last year's relatively mild season, officials have said. And not only will it be cold, it will be plenty snowy as well, said Charles Williams, Streets and Sanitation commissioner.

"We are expecting an active winter season," Williams said at a news conference Friday.

RELATED: Chiberia's Revenge: 2017 Winter To Bring 'Numbing' Cold, Big Snowstorms

 Charles Williams, Streets and Sanitation commissioner, speaks about winter preparedness Friday.
Charles Williams, Streets and Sanitation commissioner, speaks about winter preparedness Friday.
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DNAinfo/Joe Ward

The city is expecting as many as 20 snowfalls this year, a couple of them considered to be significant, including as much as a foot that could be dumped on Super Bowl weekend, Williams said.

More than 50 inches of snow could fall this season, which is considerably more than the average of 36.1 inches of snow, Williams said.

Staying warm

Chicago's heat ordinance mandates that landlords keep thermostats at 66 degrees overnight and 68 degrees during the day in the winter. But if that's not enough, the city operates a network of warming centers, officials said.

There will be six warming centers throughout the city that operate during normal business hours, said Joel Mitchell, deputy commissioner the Department of Family Support and Services. 

One warming center, at 10 S. Kedzie Ave., will be open 24 hours, Mitchell said.

Call 311 to find the warming center nearest you, or check out the list here. Calling 311 can also help residents arrange transportation to the warming centers, Mitchell said.

There are 15 senior centers in the city that also double as warming centers exclusively for seniors, the city said. On weekends and holidays, public buildings like libraries and police stations can serve as warming centers.

Snow removal

The city has added 26 new salt spreaders to its 300-piece fleet of snow-removal trucks, Williams said. It has 374,000 tons of salt at 19 facilities across the city. (The city only used 130,000 tons of salt last year.)

In the event of significant snowfall, Williams said the city always begins by plowing Lake Shore Drive, then moves to arterial streets. Once the arterials are plowed and the snow has stopped falling, plows will make their way to side streets, he said.

Plows can be tracked at chicagoshovels.org

"Be patient" driving in the snow, Williams said. "Slow down and drive for the conditions."

Residents are expected to remove the snow from their sidewalks. Officials asked that neighbors check on each other to see if they need help not only removing snow but surviving the weather.

"Times like these can bring out the best in people," said Rich Guidice, managing deputy of operations for the Office of Emergency Management and Communications.

Parking restrictions

The city's winter parking ban went into effect at 3 a.m. Dec. 1. and runs through March 31.

The ban is limited to 107 miles of main arterial streets in the city, as having cars parked on the streets seriously impedes plowing efforts, Williams said. It is in effect even when snow is not on the ground, he said.

Winterizing your home

The city is asking residents to winterproof their homes. That includes making sure your home is properly insulated. Officials also suggested residents keep blankets and other emergency items in cars and to make sure a phone is always available and working in case of emergency.

Make sure pipes are properly insulated and not exposed to freezing air. If pipes freeze, do not use an open flame to thaw them; use a hair dryer or heating pad, city officials said.

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