WBEZ | Chicago weather http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago-weather Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Deep freeze may have cost economy about $5 billion http://www.wbez.org/news/deep-freeze-may-have-cost-economy-about-5-billion-109492 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Capture_3.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Hunkering down at home rather than going to work, canceling thousands of flights and repairing burst pipes from the Midwest to the Southeast has its price. By one estimate, about $5 billion.</p><p>The country may be warming up from the polar vortex, but the bone-chilling cold, snow and ice that gripped much of the country &mdash; affecting about 200 million people &mdash; brought about the biggest economic disruption delivered by the weather since Superstorm Sandy in 2012, said Evan Gold, senior vice president at Planalytics, a business weather intelligence company in suburban Philadelphia.</p><p>While the impact came nowhere close to Sandy, which caused an estimated $65 billion in property damage alone, the deep freeze&#39;s impact came from its breadth.</p><p>&quot;There&#39;s a lot of economic activity that didn&#39;t happen,&quot; Gold said. &quot;Some of that will be made up but some of it just gets lost.&quot;</p><p>Still, Gold noted his $5 billion estimate pales in comparison with an annual gross domestic product of about $15 trillion &mdash; working out to maybe one-seventh to one-eighth of one day&#39;s production for the entire country.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s a small fraction of a percent, but it&#39;s still an impact,&quot; Gold said.</p><p>Major U.S. airlines, which canceled about 20,000 flights starting last Thursday, lost anywhere from $50 million to $100 million, said Helane Becker, an analyst with Cowen and Co. in New York.</p><p>JetBlue was hit especially hard because 80 percent of its flights go through New York or Boston, where the carrier shut down Monday evening into Tuesday. The airline also was affected by other airport closures and new regulations limiting pilot hours.</p><p>School closures took their own toll, keeping home parents who couldn&#39;t find alternatives for their kids. Even if those parents worked from home, they might not have been as productive, said Tony Madden, regional economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.</p><p>&quot;People in the northern climates are used to dealing with issues of snow and cold,&quot; Madden said. &quot;However, when you get a one-in-20-year event like this, that disrupts activities.&quot;</p><p>The insurance industry has yet to estimate costs, but Robert Hartwig, president of the Insurance Information Institute in New York, said insurers plan for about $1.4 billion in winter storm catastrophe losses in any given year.</p><p>&quot;We certainly know there is an epidemic of frozen and burst pipes this week,&quot; Hartwig said.</p><p>Damage to a Minnesota state health laboratory in St. Paul could top $1 million after the heating system failed and pipes leaked. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley&#39;s home in Tuscaloosa took an estimated $50,000 blow from a burst water pipe. Roto-Rooter in Minneapolis and elsewhere has been &quot;inundated&quot; with calls about burst pipes and even frozen sewer lines since the cold snap, plumbing manager Paul Teale said.</p><p>Governments are meanwhile tallying costs for depleted road salt reserves, blown overtime budgets and repairs.</p><p>Other impacts will be felt in about 30 days when high heating bills start coming due, Gold said, which will affect how much consumers can spend in February.</p><p>But somebody always benefits, he said.</p><p>On-demand cable TV and restaurant delivery services gained, as did home centers and convenience stores where people went to stock up. Online retailers benefited from customers with an estimated $30 billion worth of new holiday gift cards burning holes in their pockets, he said.</p><p>Other beneficiaries may be farther away. Boston-based Hopper Research says the frigid temperatures caused a 52 percent spike in searches for flights to Cancun, Mexico, from people in Minneapolis and Chicago.</p></p> Thu, 09 Jan 2014 17:07:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/deep-freeze-may-have-cost-economy-about-5-billion-109492 Below-zero temps push into Midwest, Northeast http://www.wbez.org/news/below-zero-temps-push-midwest-northeast-109464 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/cold.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Frigid, dense air swirled across much of the U.S. on Monday, forcing some cities and their residents into hibernation while others layered up and carried on despite a dangerous cold that broke decades-old records.</p><p>Wind chill warnings stretched from Montana to Alabama. For a big chunk of the Midwest, the subzero temperatures moved in behind another winter wallop: more than a foot of snow and high winds that made traveling treacherous. Officials closed schools in cities including Chicago, St. Louis and Milwaukee and warned residents to stay indoors and avoid the frigid cold altogether.</p><p>The forecast is extreme: Wind chills were expected to drop as low as negative 55 Monday night in International Falls, Minn., and rebound to minus 25 to minus 35 on Tuesday. Farther south, the wind chill is expected to hit negative 50 in Chicago and minus 35 in Detroit.</p><p>School systems and day cares shut down as a precaution from the Dakotas to Maryland. But whether residents chose to stay home or head outside appeared to have less to do with the mercury and more with conditioning.</p><p>Emeric Dwyer of St. Paul wore only a London Fog trenchcoat and light scarf to protect himself from morning temperatures that got down to minus 20 in the Twin Cities. The 30-year-old was just glad his car started.</p><p>&quot;It made a grinding noise I never heard before. But it started and got us here. Not too much to complain about,&quot; said Dwyer, who is originally from Duluth in the northern part of the state.</p><p>&quot;In Duluth it&#39;s always cold,&quot; he said.</p><p>But it hasn&#39;t been this cold for almost two decades in many parts of the country. The National Weather Service said the temperature sank to 16 degrees below zero at Chicago&#39;s O&#39;Hare International Airport, two degrees lower than the record for Jan. 6. Weekend snowfall at the airport totaled more than 11 inches &mdash; the most since a February 2011 storm that shut down the city&#39;s famed Lake Shore Drive.</p><p>In Indiana, where many roads were rendered impassable because of snow and wind, authorities had a simple message: stay home.</p><p>&quot;I know the roads look clear, the sun&#39;s out and it all looks nice,&quot; Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard said Monday. &quot;But it&#39;s still minus 40 in wind chill &mdash; deadly temperatures. So we want to be very, very careful.&quot;</p><p>Ballard issued a travel ban for the city, making it illegal for anyone to drive except for emergencies or to seek shelter, until noon Monday. But he wants schools and businesses to remain closed another day until the worst of the severe cold passes.</p><p>Much of Indiana was blanketed in about a foot of snow Sunday, and many of the state&#39;s schools, businesses and municipal offices were closed Monday. Wind chills through Tuesday could reach 45 degrees below zero, according to the National Weather Service.</p><p>The Legislature postponed the opening day of its 2014 session, and the state appellate courts, including the Indiana Supreme Court, said they would be closed.</p><p>Many other cities came to a virtual standstill. In St. Louis, where more than 10 inches of snow fell, the Gateway Arch, St. Louis Art Museum and St. Louis Zoo were part of the seemingly endless list of closed facilities. Shopping malls and movie theaters closed, too. Even Hidden Valley Ski Resort, the region&#39;s only ski area, shut down.</p><p>Further north, those more accustomed to extreme winter weather kept moving, even if just a bit slower than usual.</p><p>Between a heater that barely works and the drafty windows that invite the cold air into his home, Jeffery Davis decided he&#39;d be better off sitting in a downtown Chicago doughnut shop for three hours Monday until it was time to go to work. He threw on two pairs of pants, two t-shirts, &quot;at least three jackets,&quot; two hats, a pair of gloves, the &quot;thickest socks you&#39;d probably ever find&quot; and boots, and trudged to the train stop in his South Side neighborhood that took him to within a few blocks of the library where he works.</p><p>&quot;I never remember it ever being this cold,&quot; said Davis, 51. &quot;I&#39;m flabbergasted.&quot;</p><p>Elnur Toktombetov, a Chicago taxi driver, awoke at 2:30 a.m. Monday anticipating a busy day. By 3:25 a.m. he was on the road, armed with hot tea and doughnuts. An hour into his shift, his Toyota&#39;s windows were still coated with ice on the inside.</p><p>&quot;People are really not comfortable with this weather,&quot; Toktombetov said. &quot;They&#39;re really happy to catch the cab. And I notice they really tip well.&quot;</p><p>In downtown Chicago, a commuter train hit a &quot;bumping post&quot; as it pulled into a station, the second such accident of the day. Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said six passengers were taken to a hospital with minor injuries Monday after the train hit the post at the end of a platform. A less serious incident occurred at the same station around 6:15 a.m., but no passengers were injured.</p><p>More than 40,000 homes and businesses in Indiana, 16,000 in Illinois and 2,000 in Missouri were without power early Monday. Indianapolis spokesman Marc Lotter said emergency crews accompanied about 350 people to shelters around the city.</p><p>Southern states were bracing for possible record temperatures too, with single-digit highs expected Tuesday in Georgia and Alabama.</p><p>Temperatures plunged into the 20s early Monday in north Georgia, the frigid start of dangerously cold temperatures for the first part of the week. The Georgia Department of Transportation said its crews were prepared to respond to reports of black ice in north Georgia.</p></p> Sun, 05 Jan 2014 14:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/below-zero-temps-push-midwest-northeast-109464 Last week's storm still causing flooding problems http://www.wbez.org/news/last-weeks-storm-still-causing-flooding-problems-106771 <p><p>DES PLAINES, Ill. &mdash; The rain is gone for now but the trouble it caused last week is still here.</p><p>While many roads are reopening all over suburban Chicago, there are still plenty that remain closed. Flooding along the along the Fox River and the Des Plaines River has left many roads impassable in communities such as Lisle, Gurnee and Des Plaines. In many cases residents are getting around in canoes.</p><p>In Des Plaines, City Manager Mike Bartholomew tells The (Arlington Heights) <a href="http://bit.ly/13qi0UM" target="_blank">Daily Herald</a> that even when the water recedes enough to open the roads it will take at least a half a day to get them cleaned up enough to reopen.</p><p>It is expected to be sunny Monday but the area may get as much as an inch of rain Tuesday.</p></p> Mon, 22 Apr 2013 12:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/last-weeks-storm-still-causing-flooding-problems-106771 Chicago braces for 10 inches of snow http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-braces-10-inches-snow-105871 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP13030511031.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A late winter storm packing up to 10 inches of snow sent officials in weather-hardened Chicago into action Tuesday to prevent a repeat of scenes from two years ago, when hundreds of people in cars and buses were stranded on the city&#39;s marquee thoroughfare during a massive blizzard.<br />Since the 2011 storm, which dumped 20 inches on Chicago, the nation&#39;s third-largest city has had it pretty easy snow-wise. But the storm that was moving through Tuesday could end up dumping the most there since that blizzard, after a relatively mild winter last year and a slow start to this year&#39;s.</p><p>Some other areas in the storm system&#39;s path have had harsher weather in recent months. The system started Sunday in Montana, hit the Dakotas and Minnesota on Monday and then barreled through Wisconsin and Illinois on its way to Washington, D.C., where it was expected late Tuesday night.</p><p>Some in Chicago were caught off guard by the last gasp from Old Man Winter.</p><p>&quot;I thought it was just media hype,&quot; said Stacia Kopplin, who was fleeing her financial services job shortly after noon and walking through the blast of wet snow to catch a train home to the suburbs.</p><p>Schools were closed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois, where officials urged caution on snow-slickened roads. In western Wisconsin, a semi-trailer slid off a snow-covered interstate near Menomonie and into the Red Cedar River, killing one person. Authorities said they were searching for a second person, believed to be a passenger.</p><p>Airlines canceled more than 1,100 flights at Chicago airports, prompting delays and closures at others around the region. Airlines along the storm&#39;s projected path were already cutting flights too, including about 450 on Wednesday, most of them at Dulles and Reagan National airports in the Washington area, according to FlightAware.com. Daniel Baker, CEO of the flight-tracking service, said he expected the numbers to rise.</p><p>In Chicago, officials were working to keep Lake Shore Drive safe. The February 2011 blizzard embarrassed the city when hundreds of cars and buses were entombed in snow on the roadway that runs along Lake Michigan and people were trapped overnight.</p><p>City government has taken steps to prevent a repeat. Officials have opened a removable barrier in the median of the four-lane roadway to allow emergency vehicles quicker access to trouble spots. Plows and salt-spreading trucks are also in easier striking distance of Lake Shore Drive, and they started treating the roadway hours before snow began falling.</p><p>&quot;We are prepared as a city to deal with this snow,&quot; said Mayor Rahm Emanuel at Chicago&#39;s emergency snow command center, where officials keep an eye on a bank of TV monitors feeding in real-time images from 1,500 cameras and data from roadway sensors.</p><p>Elsewhere along the storm&#39;s path, many were taking things in stride.</p><p>Alicia Aldrete was out taking her dog for a stroll in Madison, Wis.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s not that bad at all,&quot; said Aldrete, 47. &quot;Just make sure you shovel immediately, put lots of salt on the ground and also store lots of food in case of emergency.&quot;</p><p>In St. Paul, Minn., where 7 inches of snow had fallen, 55-year-old Mario Showers was shoveling sidewalks around a downtown church.</p><p>&quot;With Minnesota, ain&#39;t no telling when the snow&#39;s gonna come, you know,&quot; said Showers. &quot;The way I think about it is that, you&#39;ve got four seasons, and every season brings about a change, you know. So, you&#39;ve got to take the bitter with the sweet, that&#39;s all. So this is the bitter right now.&quot;</p><p>As the storm pushed eastward, people in Washington, D.C., were bracing for 3 to 7 inches. The mountains of western Maryland could get up to 16 inches by Wednesday night. Minor tidal flooding was possible along the Delaware coast, the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay and the lower Potomac River, the National Weather Service said.</p><p>In Virginia, the forecast was already causing a run at some supermarkets At the Food Lion in Staunton, shelves that were stocked ahead of the storm were being cleared by customers.</p><p>&quot;Bread, milk, eggs and beer, all the necessities,&quot; manager Everett Castle said.</p><p>As the heaviest snow fell in Chicago, residents were working their shovels and snow-blowers.</p><p>Pat Reidy said she skipped work and did 40 minutes of yoga as a warm-up for the heavy lifting she was doing in her neighborhood near Wrigley Field.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;m trying to avoid a heart attack,&quot; the 52-year-old finance worker said.</p><p>Mike Morawski, 53, was helping clear the sidewalk in front an older neighbor&#39;s home.</p><p>&quot;We don&#39;t want her digging out,&quot; he said. &quot;She&#39;s a tender, little woman, a piano teacher. She doesn&#39;t need to be shoveling.&quot;</p><p>Chicago&#39;s love-thy-neighbor ethos has its limits, though. With the winter blast, Morawski expected the return of an old city tradition in which residents clear a parking space and keep it reserved with a lawn chair.</p><p>&quot;They&#39;ll all come out tonight, believe me, when people start digging out,&quot; he said.</p></p> Mon, 04 Mar 2013 08:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-braces-10-inches-snow-105871 Winter storm cancels 390 Chicago flights http://www.wbez.org/news/winter-storm-cancels-390-chicago-flights-105768 <p><p>A winter storm that is expected to produce a mix of rain and snow has prompted airlines to cancel more than 250 flights at Chicago&#39;s O&#39;Hare International Airport and 140 at Midway International Airport.</p><p>By Tuesday afternoon, the airlines at O&#39;Hare reported delays between 15 minutes and 45 minutes on both inbound and outbound flights. The city&#39;s aviation department is urging travelers to check their airlines&#39; website for flight status.</p><p>Forecasters expect the storm to leave behind three to six inches of snow.</p><p>Roads throughout central and northern Illinois grew slick and some schools and government offices closed.</p><p>The National Weather Service says some heavy snow piled up early Tuesday in west-central Illinois. Both Galesburg and Macomb had more than 5 inches on the ground.</p></p> Tue, 26 Feb 2013 14:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/winter-storm-cancels-390-chicago-flights-105768 Winter storm blankets Great Plains with snow http://www.wbez.org/news/winter-storm-blankets-great-plains-snow-105656 <p><p>ST. LOUIS &mdash; Blinding snow, at times accompanied by thunder and lightning, bombarded much of the nation&#39;s midsection Thursday, causing whiteout conditions, making major roadways all but impassable and shutting down schools and state legislatures.</p><p>Kansas was the epicenter of the winter storm, with parts of the state buried under 14 inches of powdery snow, but winter storm warnings stretched from eastern Colorado through Illinois. Freezing rain and sleet were forecast for southern Missouri, southern Illinois and Arkansas. St. Louis was expected to get all of the above &mdash; a treacherous mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain.</p><p>Several accidents were blamed on icy and slushy roadways, including two fatal accidents. Most schools in Kansas and Missouri, and many in neighboring states, were closed. Legislatures shut down in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Nebraska and Iowa.</p><p>&quot;Thundersnow&quot; accompanied the winter storm in parts of Kansas and Missouri, which National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Truett said is the result of an unstable air mass, much like a thunderstorm.</p><p>&quot;Instead of pouring rain, it&#39;s pouring snow,&quot; Truett said. And pouring was a sound description, with snow falling at a rate of 1 1/2 to 2 inches per hour in some spots. Kansas City, Mo., got 5 inches in two hours.</p><p>Snow totals passed the foot mark in many places: Monarch Pass, Colo., had 17 &frac12; inches, Hutchinson, Kan., 14 inches and Wichita, Kan., 13 inches. The National Weather Service said up to 18 inches of snow were possible in central Kansas.</p><p>With that in mind, Kansas transportation officials &mdash; and even the governor &mdash; urged people to simply stay home.</p><p>Drivers were particularly warned away from the Kansas Turnpike, which had whiteout conditions. Interstate 70 was also snow-packed and a 90-mile stretch of that road was closed between Salina and Hays.</p><p>Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback closed executive offices, except for essential personnel.</p><p>&quot;If you don&#39;t have to get out, just really, please, don&#39;t do it,&quot; Brownback said.</p><p>Travelers filled hotels rather than skating across dangerous roadways. At the Econo Lodge in WaKeeney, Kan., assistant manager Michael Tidball said the 48-room hotel was full by 10 p.m. Wednesday and that most guests were opting to stay an extra day.</p><p>Just south of Wichita, near the small community of Clearwater, Scott Van Allen had already shoveled the sidewalks Thursday and was out on his tractor clearing the driveway of the 10 inches of snow &mdash; just in case he might need to go out. For once, he didn&#39;t mind the task.</p><p>&quot;I kind of enjoyed it this time,&quot; he said. &quot;We were certainly needing the moisture terribly.&quot;</p><p>Vance Ehmkes, a wheat farmer near Healy in western Kansas, agreed, saying the 10-12 inches of snow outside was &quot;what we have been praying for.&quot;</p><p>He and his wife, Louise, were drinking lots of coffee and cozily feeding the fireplace Thursday from the stack of old fence posts they had stacked on their porch in anticipation of the storm.</p><p>But he didn&#39;t plan on resting all day &mdash; there was paperwork waiting for him: &quot;After you put it off as long as you can, on a day like this, it is a good opportunity to get caught up on things you don&#39;t want to do,&quot; Ehmkes said.</p><p>Near the Nebraska-Kansas border, as much as 8 inches fell overnight, while western Nebraska saw about half of that amount, National Weather Service forecaster Shawn Jacobs said.</p><p>Areas in western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle also had up to 8 inches of snow by Thursday morning. Christy Walker, a waitress at the Polly Anna Cafe in Woodward, Okla., got stuck on her drive into work. But business in the western Oklahoma town was brisk, she said.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s affecting everybody who is hungry and wants to come out to eat,&quot; she said. &quot;I&#39;m extremely busy right now.&quot;</p><p>Elsewhere, Arkansas saw a mix of precipitation &mdash; in places, a combination of hail, sleet and freezing rain, others saw 6 inches of snow. Forecasters warned northern Arkansas could get a half-inch of ice.</p><p>Two fatal accidents were attributed to winter weather on Wednesday. In Oklahoma, 18-year-old Cody Alexander of Alex, Okla., died when his pickup truck skidded on a slushy state highway into oncoming traffic and struck a truck. And in Nebraska, 19-year-old Kristina Leigh Anne Allen of Callaway died when a SUV lost control in snowy, icy conditions, crossed the median and struck her car.</p><p>Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency Thursday morning and activated the State Emergency Operations Center. By midmorning Thursday, the snow was coming down so hard that Kansas City International Airport shut down. About 90 flights were also cancelled at Lambert Airport in St. Louis, where sleet and ice began falling late morning.</p><p>St. Louis prepared with some uncertainty. Depending on the temperature and the trajectory of the storm, the metro area could get snow, freezing rain, ice, sleet or all or some of the above. Crews were hoping to spread enough salt to keep at least the major roadways moving.</p><p>Alex Sosnowski, a meteorologist for Accuweather, said the storm will push off into the Great Lakes and central Appalachians, and freezing rain could make it as far east and south as North Carolina. He also said a &quot;spin-off&quot; storm was expected to create heavy snow in New England, and could push Boston to a February record.</p><p>Accuweather said that by the time the storm dies out, at least 24 states will be affected.</p></p> Thu, 21 Feb 2013 11:14:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/winter-storm-blankets-great-plains-snow-105656 Chicago gets first 1-inch snowfall of winter http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-gets-first-1-inch-snowfall-winter-105149 <p><iframe width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F76452851"></iframe><p>Chicago didn&#39;t get much snow Friday, but it was record-breaking nonetheless.</p><p>The 1.1 inches that settled on Windy City streets and sidewalks marked the latest first seasonal snowfall of at least an inch in the Midwest metropolis since at least 1884, when records were first kept, National Weather Service forecaster Matt Friedlein said. The previous record was set on Jan. 17, 1899.</p><p>Friday also broke Chicago&#39;s longest streak of consecutive days without an inch of snow. The city went 335 days, or about 11 months, without at least an inch, Friedlein said.</p><p>For some people, Friday&#39;s snow was significant for another reason: They finally got to work.</p><p>&quot;This is the first time we&#39;ve had a blade down this year,&quot; said Clara Mark, a dispatcher at Chicago Snow Removal Services, which plows parking lots at condominium complexes, strip malls and factories.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s been rough,&quot; she said. &quot;Last year was a bust, too. We only plowed three times.&quot;</p><p>But Mark said Friday&#39;s snowfall also was bittersweet for drivers &quot;crying for work.&quot; Some clients don&#39;t want their parking lots plowed until there&#39;s two inches of snow.</p><p>On a related note, if you want to get inspired to build your own snowmen, come on down to Navy Pier Snow Days, where sculptors are building with snow:</p><p><embed flashvars="host=picasaweb.google.com&amp;hl=en_US&amp;feat=flashalbum&amp;RGB=0x000000&amp;feed=https%3A%2F%2Fpicasaweb.google.com%2Fdata%2Ffeed%2Fapi%2Fuser%2F101134598280957379187%2Falbumid%2F5837159681998210705%3Falt%3Drss%26kind%3Dphoto%26hl%3Den_US" height="450" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer" src="https://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="620"></embed></p></p> Fri, 25 Jan 2013 11:09:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-gets-first-1-inch-snowfall-winter-105149 Midwest remains locked in deep freeze http://www.wbez.org/news/midwest-remains-locked-deep-freeze-105093 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/flickr_theeErin.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>MADISON, Wis. &mdash; The Upper Midwest remains locked in the deep freeze, with bitter temperatures stretching into a fourth day across several states.</p><p>The cold snap arrived Saturday night as waves of Arctic air swept south from Canada, pushing temperatures to dangerous lows and leaving a section of the country well-versed in winter&#39;s pains reeling.</p><p>Authorities suspect exposure has played a role in at least four deaths so far.</p><p>&quot;I am wearing a Snuggie under a top and another jacket over that,&quot; said Faye Whitbeck, president of the chamber of commerce in International Falls, Minn., a town near the Canadian border where the temperature was minus 30 on Tuesday morning. The so-called &quot;Nation&#39;s Icebox&quot; reached a balmy 3 below for a high. &quot;I pulled out a coat that went right to my ankles this morning and I wore two scarves.&quot;</p><p>Among the coldest temperatures recorded Tuesday was 35 below at Crane Lake, Minn., a National Weather Service forecaster said early Wednesday.</p><p>The coldest location in the lower 48 states Monday was Embarrass, Minn., at 36 below. On Sunday it was Babbitt, Minn., at 29 below, according to the National Weather Service.</p><p>Forecasters said late Tuesday that overnight temperatures wouldn&#39;t get that low, but warned it was still frigid: Embarrass, Minn., was up to 15 below by late Tuesday night.</p><p>Nighttime temperatures round 10 degrees made it harder for Chicago firefighters to battle a warehouse blaze described by officials as one of the largest in recent years. The Chicago Sun-Times reported (http://bit.ly/V6aVU4) late Tuesday that more than 170 firefighters responded to the five-alarm blaze at an abandoned warehouse on the city&#39;s South Side that took nearly three hours to get under control.</p><p>The Northeast was also feeling the chill from Ohio to Maine.</p><p>In Connecticut, overnight temperatures were expected to range from 0 to 10 degrees over the next several days, and the wind chill could make it feel as cold as minus 15 degrees in some parts of the state. In Millinocket, Maine, residents awoke to temperatures of minus 9 degrees</p><p>The bitter conditions were expected to persist into the weekend in the Midwest through the eastern half of the U.S., said Shawn DeVinny, a National Weather Service meteorologist in suburban Minneapolis.</p><p>Ariana Laffey, a 30-year-old homeless woman, kept warm with a blanket, three pairs of pants and six shirts as she sat on a milk crate begging near Chicago&#39;s Willis Tower on Tuesday morning. She said she and her husband spent the night under a bridge, bundled up under a half-dozen blankets.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re just trying to make enough to get a warm room to sleep in tonight,&quot; Laffey said.</p><p>But in Sioux Falls, S.D., where winter temperatures are normally well below freezing, some homeless shelters had open beds. Shelter managers suspect people who needed a place to stay were already using the services before the temperatures reached more extreme lows. The first cold snap of the season was in early December. Overnight temperatures dropped to 9 below with the wind chill. In Vermillion, S.D., a water pipe break forced the evacuation of a dormitory at the University of South Dakota, with nearly 500 students offered hotel rooms.</p><p>In Michigan&#39;s Upper Peninsula, residents woke to a wind chill that made it feel like 35 below. The temperature in Madison, Wis., was a whopping 1 degree above just before midday Tuesday. For northern Illinois, it was the first time in almost two years that temperatures had dipped below zero.</p><p>The temperature in Detroit was a toasty 7 degrees with a 10 below wind chill around midday. City officials said they planned to extend hours at its two warming centers. A warming center run by St. Peter and Paul Jesuit Church downtown that usually sees 50 to 60 people on a typical winter day had taken in about 90 people Tuesday morning.</p><p>Police in Milwaukee, where the temperature was just 2 degrees at noon, checked under freeway overpasses to find the homeless and urge them to find a shelter. The United Way of Greater Milwaukee has donated $50,000 to two homeless shelters so they can open overflow centers.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re incredibly relieved,&quot; said Donna Rongholt-Migan, executive director of the Cathedral Center, a Milwaukee shelter that received $25,000. &quot;I was walking my dog last night and I couldn&#39;t feel my legs just after walking around the block.&quot;</p><p>Schools across the region either started late or didn&#39;t open at all. Districts in Duluth, Minn., and Ashland, Bayfield, Hurley, Washburn and Superior in far northern Wisconsin closed amid warnings that the wicked wind chills could freeze exposed flesh within a minute.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s brutal,&quot; Courtney Thrall, a 21-year-old University of Wisconsin-Madison student, said as she waited for her bus, her fur-trimmed parka hood pulled over her head.</p><p>On Sunday, a 70-year-old man was found frozen in his unheated home in Des Plaines, Ill. And in Green Bay, Wis., a 38-year-old man was found dead outside his home Monday morning. Authorities in both cases said the victims died of hypothermia and cold exposure, with alcohol a possible contributing factor.</p><p>A 77-year-old Illinois woman also was found dead near her car in southwestern Wisconsin on Saturday night, and a 61-year-old Minnesota man was pronounced dead at a hospital after he was found in a storage building Saturday morning.</p><p>The plunging temperatures made life plenty miserable for plumbers.</p><p>Workers in Madison had to repair at least four water main breaks since Sunday afternoon. Jim Gilchrist, a third-generation plumber in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, said he received about five or six calls Tuesday from people with frozen water pipes in their homes. Few pipes had actually burst &mdash; yet.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;ll probably get those calls later, as pipes begin thawing&quot; and develop a split, Gilchrist said. &quot;Today they just know they don&#39;t have water; tomorrow they will have water spraying.&quot;</p><p>At least two fires in southern Wisconsin were blamed on property owners using heaters or other means to thaw frozen pipes. In one case, a dairy barn was destroyed, and in the other, a mobile home was lost. No one was hurt.</p></p> Wed, 23 Jan 2013 08:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/midwest-remains-locked-deep-freeze-105093 Weather boosts business for gardening stores http://www.wbez.org/story/weather-boosts-business-gardening-stores-97530 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-March/2012-03-22/6998450993_7ea22b892d_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Phones have been ringing off the hook since the end of February at the Gethsemane Garden Center in Chicago. Annual plant manager Carol Rice said the warm weather has had a big affect on sales for March.</p><p>"We're probably, you know, doing double or triple what we would at this time of year," Rice said.</p><p>As the city reached its eighth<strong> </strong>day of broken or tied weather records, Rice's business couldn't be better. She said it's the first time in her 16 years of working at the Andersonville/Edgewater store that she's had to order annual plants this early.</p><p>According to Boyce Tankersley from the Chicago Botanic Garden, the warm temperatures have pushed up the normal growing schedule by four to five weeks. He said everything from grass to fruit trees is seeing an excelerated growing pattern. An avid gardener, he's taken advantage of the warm weather himself, but he worries what could happen if the region experiences a cold snap.</p><p>"I'm really pinching pennies to buy the plants that I am to put around my garden and landscape at home, and the thought of having to go back and do it all over again, I just, I don't want to go there," Tankersley said.</p><p>Meteorologists haven't ruled out the possibility of temperatures dropping back to normal, or even below that. According to National Weather Service meteorologist Amy Seely, anything is possible.</p><p>"Think about it - we're well above normal now. There are many times in April we have have had a cold snap. I can't say exactly when we'll have one, but it's distinctly possible," Seeley said.</p><p>According to Seely, Chicago has seen late spring snowfall. In May of 1907, the city saw over an inch of snow accumulation, while residents saw 0.2 inches of snowfall in May of 1966.</p><p>Over at Gethsemane, Rice said she's ordered new cool-weather plants that can withstand temperatures around 40 degrees, just in case.</p></p> Thu, 22 Mar 2012 13:37:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/weather-boosts-business-gardening-stores-97530 The rains of August 1987 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-08-31/rains-august-1987-90950 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-August/2011-08-30/08-31--Rain01.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>This past July Chicago recorded 9.81 inches of precipitation--the wettest July ever, and the 9th-wettest month in the city's history. But if you were here on this August 31st in 1987, you were just finishing monsoon month, the all-time record-holder. Let's turn back the clock 24 years. What was it like? How would you cope?</p><p>July 1987 had been very hot and very dry. When the rains came in the opening days of August, Chicago was relieved. At last it was cooling off.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" height="322" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-24/08-31--Rain01 - Copy.JPG" title="" width="485"></p><p>But the rains continued . . . and continued . . . and continued. The Des Plaines River overflowed. Water backed up into basements. As the water receded swarms of mosquitoes appeared.</p><p>And then the rains returned. People joked about building an ark. But what was a "cubit" anyway?</p><p>So what did you do for relief in 1987? The parks and forest preserves were all mud. Spectator sports were not a happy solution--the Cubs and the Sox were floundering, and the Bears' pre-season was not going well.</p><p>TV was all summer reruns. If you were one of the fortunate few who had cable, there were plenty of black-and-white 1950s sitcoms to choose from. Too bad your VCR was in the shop getting fixed again.</p><p>The internet--what was that? Something to do with your computer? Well, maybe you could forget about the rain and play a modern video game. The people next door might even have Super Mario!</p><p>Perhaps there was comfort in irony. The weather bureau had predicted normal precip for August. The Farmer's Almanac had told us we were going to have a drought. But what did experts know? Ten years ago they'd said a new Ice Age was on the way. Now there was talk about something called global warming.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" height="320" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-24/08-31--Rain02.JPG" title="" width="485"></p><p>But we are Chicagoans, and we are tough! Let's take pride in what we've endured. Normal rainfall for August is 3.53 inches. In this August 1987, we've just finished a month with 17.10 inches, a new record!</p><p>And after all, the average temperature for the month came out to 81, which is about what it should be. (Okay, some days the high was 97, and other days it never got past 62. But it all averages out!)</p><p>Besides, fall is on the way--and the Bulls are looking good this year!</p></p> Wed, 31 Aug 2011 12:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2011-08-31/rains-august-1987-90950