WBEZ | cold http://www.wbez.org/tags/cold Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Just how bad is this Chicago winter? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/just-how-bad-chicago-winter-109637 <p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: This post has been updated to reflect how the 2013-2014 winter season in particular compares to seasons past. It introduces the Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index, which seeks to combine several factors that make winter miserable: temperatures, snowfall and a winter season&#39;s duration. As of March 17, the index would suggest the 2013-2014 was the third-worst since the 1950s. Additionally, the season ranks third-highest when it comes to&nbsp;</em><em><a href="#snow">snowfall</a>&nbsp;measured from Dec. 1 to the end of February.&nbsp;</em><em>Continue reading to see how recent decades (not just this season) compare to those of Chicago&#39;s past when it comes to&nbsp;<a href="#temps">temperature</a>,&nbsp;<a href="#windchill">wind chill</a>,&nbsp;<a href="#extremes">extreme events</a>,&nbsp;<a href="#grey">grey skies</a>, and&nbsp;<a href="#city">city response</a>.&nbsp;</em></p><p>Maybe you&rsquo;re still warming up from January&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/polar-vortex">polar vortex</a> &mdash; replacing your car&rsquo;s battery or repairing the plastic insulation taped into your window frames &mdash; but bear with us: What&rsquo;s the worst part of winter?</p><p>Curious City recently got a related question from Edgewater resident Tracey Rosen:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>&ldquo;Is it&nbsp;true&nbsp;that Chicago winters were worse than they are now?&quot;</em></p><p>I asked Illinois State Climatologist <a href="http://www.wbez.org/results?s=jim%20angel">Jim Angel</a>, who pointed out Tracey&rsquo;s query raises questions of its own.</p><p>&ldquo;I have wrestled with that question before &mdash; what constitutes a &lsquo;bad&rsquo; winter. Is it the snow, the cold temperature, the length of the season, etc.,&rdquo; Angel said in an email. &ldquo;I can tell you that by most measures the winters in the late 1970s were the worst.&rdquo;</p><p>But it depends on what you deem &ldquo;worse.&rdquo; Would that be a winter with more snow? One with more big snowstorms? Should the coldest winter count? Or maybe one where city services like public transportation freeze to a halt?<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/tracey%20rosen%20WEB.jpg" style="float: right; height: 195px; width: 260px;" title="Question-asker Tracey Rosen, who asked Curious City if Chicago winters were really worse than they are now. (Photo courtesy Tracey Rosen)" /></p><p>To answer Tracey&rsquo;s question, we broke down some of the more universal descriptors of a &ldquo;bad&rdquo; winter and found out which years had it the worst (<a href="#temps">temperature</a>, <a href="#windchill">wind chill</a>, <a href="#snow">snowfall</a>, <a href="#extremes">extreme events</a>, <a href="#grey">grey skies</a>, and <a href="#city">city response</a>).</p><p>Along the way we found out what effect a brutal Chicago winter has on the people who live here and how some of them cope. But we also struck gold when we found there&rsquo;ve been attempts to scientifically assign a value to each winter&rsquo;s particular blend of meteorological misery; this would be <a href="#misery">one measurement to rule them all</a> &mdash; or at least allow us to compare a snowy, but mild winter to one that was cold but had clear skies.</p><p><strong><a name="misery"></a>Winter and our discontent</strong></p><p>A scientist with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association researches the question we&rsquo;re asking: How do you judge a severe winter? Barbara Mayes Boustead developed the <a href="https://ams.confex.com/ams/93Annual/webprogram/Paper218513.html" target="_blank">Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index</a> (AWSSI, pronounced &ldquo;aussie&rdquo;) to mathematically pin all of this down.</p><p>AWSSI assigns points to each winter based on its daily temperature maximums and minimums, its snowfall and lingering snow depth, and its length. The index designates the &quot;start&quot; of winter when the first snow falls, or the first high temperature that&rsquo;s 32 degrees or colder. If neither of these happens before Dec. 1, then that&rsquo;s when the index starts counting. The &quot;end&quot; of winter is set by the last snowfall date, the last day with one inch or more of snow depth, or the last day when the maximum temperature is 32 degrees or colder. If none of these occurs after February, then the last day of February is the end of winter.</p><p>The winter of 2013-2014 &ldquo;began&rdquo; in Chicago on Nov. 11, according to AWSSI, with 0.4 inches of snow. That&rsquo;s close to the average start date of Nov. 13, which means it&rsquo;s unlikely to rank as one of the city&rsquo;s longest winters &mdash; several have stretched five or six months. In 2006, winter started on Oct. 12 and didn&rsquo;t end until April 12.</p><p>The following chart represents the trajectory of misery within specific seasons. Read from left to right, you can see when a particular winter season began and &mdash;&nbsp;as the line climbs &mdash; how it performed on the AWSSI scale. This version represents only the five highest- and five lowest-ranking seasons. The blue, filled-in section represents 2013-2014, while the black line follows the average since the start of the 1950-1951 season. &nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://llnw.wbez.org/insert-images/boustead winter update.png" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/boustead%20winter%20update.png" style="height: 447px; width: 615px; margin: 5px;" title="Click to enlarge! This chart shows the five highest-ranking and five lowest-ranking winter seasons according to the Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index. The 2013-2014 season is indicated by the blue, filled-in section and is current through March 17, 2014. The black line represents the average compiled from the beginning of the 1950-1951 winter season. Data provided by NOAA's Barbara Mayes Boustead." /></a></div></div><p>Statistically speaking, the AWWSI suggests that this winter is indeed &quot;bad&quot; compared to previous seasons; as of March 17, Boustead said,&nbsp;2013-2014 ranked as the third-most severe since the 1950s.&nbsp;</p><p>Omaha-based Boustead said she her work&#39;s<a href="http://www.omaha.com/article/20111124/NEWS01/711249895" target="_blank"> inspired by the descriptions in Laura Ingalls Wilder&rsquo;s Little House on the Prairie novels</a>, particularly <em>The Long Winter</em>.</p><p>&ldquo;What I&rsquo;ve been doing this whole thing for is so that I can go back to these records and add up what their AWSSI was that winter and show how severe that winter was,&rdquo; she said.</p><p><strong><a name="temps"></a>Temperatures: chilly, crisp or spiteful</strong></p><p>Looking at data from the <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/">National Climatic Data Center, housed in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration</a>, you can <a href="http://www.southernclimate.org/products/trends.php">get a sense of that &lsquo;70s chill</a> Angel mentioned:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/h9P0LhfCacDnZMY2oWtx98ZK62yvDYMNhyDZGL-DRRCy7T67acaWyh-41Sy1yJ95Jni3eZR7bc-R9YE5kvDpDKhz1LhEMGRTced1Q-wJ5nAAEDrjBqI2ko3HmQ" style="margin: 5px; height: 474px; width: 610px;" title="Winter season temperatures in Illinois. Chart courtesy of Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program. " /></p><p>The green dots are the temperatures during individual winters (December-February). The red and blue areas are periods where warmer and cooler temperatures, respectively, dominated. A relatively cold period for northeastern Illinois (compared to its average winter temperature of 25.1 degrees Fahrenheit) began in 1976 and continued through 1987. Relatively mild winters, average-temperature-wise, immediately followed, from 1988 through 2006.</p><p><a href="http://www.crh.noaa.gov/lot/?n=chi_records">Chicago&rsquo;s coldest month was January 1977</a>, with an average temperature of just 10.1 degrees Fahrenheit. The coldest single temperature reading, however, was eight years later. On January 20, 1985 the thermometers hit 27 degrees below zero. And Chicago&rsquo;s coldest year on record was 1875, with an annual average temperature of 45.1 degrees.</p><p>On Jan. 26, a press release issued by Gov. Pat Quinn&rsquo;s office reminded Illinoisans that some freezes can be fatal:</p><p>&ldquo;Extreme cold temperatures are dangerous and can be deadly. Since 1995, more than 130 fatalities related to cold temperatures have occurred in Illinois, making it the second-leading cause of weather-related deaths in Illinois in the past two decades.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe align="right" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="300" scrolling="no" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/zZVElJBkO7Q?rel=0" width="405"></iframe></p><p>We&rsquo;ve had a few bouts of persistently cold temperatures this winter, including one that approached a length not seen since 1996, when a 66-hour run of subzero temperatures became the area&rsquo;s second longest. That record belongs to a 98-hour period beginning on Dec. 26, 1983.</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s temperature as measured at O&rsquo;Hare Airport has dropped below zero 15 times this winter, <a href="http://blog.chicagoweathercenter.com/category/tims-weather-world/">as of</a> the end of January &mdash; that&rsquo;s twice the long-term average. That puts us not far from the winter of 1978-79, when the city saw subzero temperatures 23 times.</p><p>The1970s were indeed cold and snowy, enough to be a point of pride for the Chicagoans who weathered those years.</p><p>&ldquo;When people comment and say, &lsquo;Oh winters are not as cold as they used to be,&rsquo; it&rsquo;s a way to say, &lsquo;My Chicago is not what it used to be,&rsquo;&rdquo; said our question asker, Tracey Rosen. &ldquo;You know, the identity of the Chicago that I drew from is not what these young people are doing with Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p>Statistically speaking, though, the winter of 2013-14 could give young Chicagoans an idea of what their late 70s forbears had to deal with. Again, Barbara Mayes Boustead&#39;s &ldquo;winter severity index&rdquo; ranks this season &mdash; as of March 17 &mdash; the city&rsquo;s third-most &ldquo;severe&rdquo; since the 1950s.&nbsp;</p><p><strong><a name="windchill"></a>Wind chill: The wind blows cold</strong></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Meridith112%20st%20charles%202014.jpg" style="float: left; height: 230px; width: 260px;" title="Wind chills can add some misery to any Chicago winter. (Flickr/Meridith112)" />A biting wind can make an ordinary cold night feel like a deep freeze &mdash; January&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/polar-vortex">polar vortex</a> brought Arctic wind chills as low as 40 degrees below zero. But, Chicago&rsquo;s coldest wind chill ever was -82 degrees. It came on Christmas Eve, 1983.</p><p>The wind in the term &ldquo;wind chill&rdquo; can compound a winter season&rsquo;s misery. For example, gusts can make it hard to clear snow. Tim Gibbons has owned Tim&rsquo;s Snowplowing, Inc. for 30 years. They&rsquo;re located in Humboldt Park now, but Gibbons started plowing in the neighborhood he grew up in and still calls home &mdash; North Center. Lately wind has been making his job difficult.</p><p>&ldquo;What we&rsquo;ve had is the phenomenon of a light, dry snow followed by a heavy-wind vortex, as these systems pass, that is taking that same light, dry snow and moved it back across whatever surface it was on,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;If it was a wet, heavy snow &hellip; it&rsquo;s less likely to be driven by any wind. But this light, dry, fluffy snow moves around like dust.&rdquo;</p><p><strong><a name="snow"></a>Snowfall: Speaking of fluffy stuff</strong></p><p>According to <a href="http://www.crh.noaa.gov/lot/?n=CHI_winter_snow">data from the National Weather Service</a>, four of the five snowiest decades since 1890 have occurred in the last 50 years, as have eight of the 10 snowiest individual winters on record. Average snowfall for winters in the 1970s was just over 40 inches per year. (For comparison, the decade with the driest winters was the 1920s, with only 18.2 inches of snowfall per year on average.)</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" scrolling="no" src="http://cf.datawrapper.de/kgv6U/2/" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="600"></iframe></p><p>Chicago went 107 days with snow on the ground from November 27, 1978 to March 13, 1979.</p><p>This season, it&#39;s unlikely we&#39;ll have snow in sight for such a long period. And, despite some notable snowfalls, some key operations are able to keep up. According to climatologist Jim Angel, this winter we have not gone more than about four days in a row with snow cover at O&rsquo;Hare. &quot;Of course,&quot; he adds, &quot;some of the piles of snow in parking lots are lasting a lot longer.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p><strong><a name="extremes"></a>Finding the extremes</strong></p><p>Just as averages can blur individual data points, looking at total snowfall can miss the difference between a quaint winter wonderland and <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoth">Hoth</a>: huge snowstorms.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/winter%20%20Forest%20Preserve%20District%20of%20Cook%20County%20Records%2C%20University%20of%20Illinois%20at%20Chicago%20Library.jpg" style="float: right; height: 241px; width: 300px;" title="One good thing about lots of snow? Tobagganing. (Photo courtesy Forest Preserve District of Cook County Records, University of Illinois at Chicago Library)" />Since 1886, there have been 42 storms that brought 10 inches of snow or more to Chicago, said Ben Deubelbeiss of the National Weather Service. (The most recent one was in 2011, when <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/2011-blizzard">more than 20 inches of snow blanketed the city, stranding cars on Lake Shore Drive</a>.) Every decade has had at least one such storm, but the 1890s leads the pack with seven. The 1970s is a close second, however, with six snowstorms that dropped at least 10 inches. The 1960s were third, with five.</p><p>How about individual years? It&rsquo;s rare for any given year to have more than one Chicago snowstorm that big. In fact, Deubelbeiss said since NWS&rsquo; records began in 1886, only five years have had two storms with more than 10 inches of snow each: 1894, 1895, 1896, 1978, and 1970.</p><p>Here are Chicago&rsquo;s ten biggest snowstorms:</p><p>1. 23.0 inches Jan 26-27, 1967<br />2. 21.6 inches Jan 1-3, 1999<br />3. 21.2 inches Feb. 1-2, 2011<br />4. 20.3 inches Jan 13-14, 1979<br />5. 19.2 inches Mar 25-26, 1930<br />6. 16.2 inches Mar 7-8, 1931<br />7. 15.0 inches Dec 17-20, 1929<br />8. 14.9 inches Jan 30, 1939<br />9. 14.9 inches Jan 6-7, 1918<br />10. 14.3 inches Mar 25-26, 1970</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s single <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/chi-chicagodays-1967blizzard-story,0,1032940.story">biggest snowstorm</a> occurred on Jan. 26, 1967. At 5:02 a.m. it began to snow. It snowed all day and night, until 10:10 a.m. the next day, dropping 23 inches of snow in all. Looting broke out, some people were stranded overnight at work or in school, and 26 people died as a result of the storm.</p><p>(Not everything was bad about the massive snowfall. Chicago Public Library researchers said <a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20040402070119/http://www.chipublib.org/004chicago/disasters/snowstorms.html">some of the 75 million tons of snow that fell that year made its way to &quot;as a present to Florida children who had never seen snow before.&quot;</a>)</p><p>Cold temperatures and periodic snow continued for the next ten days, aggravating attempts to cleanup after the storm and get city services back to normal. All that was made a bit more shocking by the fact that just two days before the storm, the temperature had reached a record 65 degrees.</p><p><strong><a name="grey"></a>Grey skies: The not-so-fluffy stuff</strong></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jon%20Pekelnicky.jpg" style="float: left; height: 278px; width: 370px;" title="On average, Chicago gets sunshine 54 percent of the time. This is not one of those times. (Flickr/Jon Pekelnicky)" />Chicagoan Frank Wachowski <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-08-09/news/ct-met-weather-watcher-frank-20110809_1_national-weather-service-chicago-weather-weather-page">has catalogued the city&#39;s weather data for decades</a>, compiling its longest continuous volume of meteorological data. One thing he keeps track of is the amount of sunlight that shines each day.</p><p>Of the years tracked in Wachowski&rsquo;s records, 1992 had the most winter days (November through February) with no sunshine &mdash; 46 of those 121 days registered zero percent on Wachowski&rsquo;s sunshine recorder. Of the 25 gloomiest years using this measure, only five have occurred since 1990.</p><p>On average, Chicago only gets sunshine 54 percent of the time. That annual average has stayed about the same for 30 years, Wachowski said.</p><p>In the winter, it&rsquo;s even grayer. Winter months typically get sunshine less than 44 percent of the time. In November 1985, the sun only shined on average 16 percent of the time.</p><p>That&rsquo;s not surprising to people with Seasonal Affective Disorder, like <a href="http://arlenemalinowski.com/not_normal.htm">Arlene Malinowski</a>. SAD, as it&rsquo;s known by its acronym, afflicts about six percent of Americans. Malinowski&rsquo;s an actor and playwright who <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arlene-malinowski-phd/seasonal-affective-disorder_b_4551574.html">has written about</a> the depression that sets in during long, gray winters.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re tired all the time, there is this decreased energy, a real lack of focus and productivity. It is more than just, &ldquo;oh blah I&rsquo;m having a bad day&rdquo; &mdash; it is a deep, deep sadness and emptiness,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Last week I looked out the window and the streetlights were on at 11 o&rsquo;clock in the morning, and I thought, &lsquo;This is not right.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>But there&rsquo;s a light at the end of the tunnel, literally. A lightbox can simulate sunlight indoors &mdash; a therapy Malinowski recommends along with walks or vacations, if you can take them.</p><p><strong><a name="city"></a>Municipal response: City Hall on the case</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicago-warming-centers-options-and-limits-109470">If you can stay warm and indoors during cold snaps and snowstorms</a>, even extreme weather itself doesn&rsquo;t throw off your schedule for more than a day or two. But when city services grind to a halt, the agony of a winter storm can go on for much longer.</p><p>When 20.3 inches of snow fell on Chicago Jan. 13-14, 1979, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/best-game-town/great-lsd-gridlock-blizzard-1979-redux">it snarled both city streets and Mayor Michael Bilandic&rsquo;s reelection ambitions</a>.Jane Byrne went on to win the municipal election less than two months later, <a href="http://www.npr.org/2010/12/30/132478152/Political-Lessons-From-Old-Chicago-Blizzard-Still-Linger">and the politics of snow would become associated with her term forever</a>.</p><p>New CTA lines running in expressway medians choked on all the de-icing salt. Unlike previous storms, the 1979 blizzard saw massive closures of rapid transit lines, in addition to buses, cars and flights.</p><p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvFwjhpkjL0">WBBM Channel 2 News did a Special Report</a> on the city&rsquo;s response during that storm&rsquo;s aftermath. In his intro to the segment, newsman Bill Kurtis described a scene that may sound familiar to those who have weathered more recent blizzards:</p><p>&ldquo;Side streets still unpassable. Public transportation snarled. Expressways buried. O&rsquo;Hare Airport closed for one of the few times in its history. This is turning out to be Chicago&rsquo;s winter of discontent, alright.&rdquo;</p><p>About O&rsquo;Hare closing &mdash; Chicago Department of Aviation spokeswoman Karen Pride said while they always have staff on hand to maintain the airport, winter weather has temporarily knocked out all available runways on several occasions. There were &ldquo;nearly half a dozen&rdquo; such occasions in the 1970s and 80s, Pride said, but that hasn&#39;t happened since.</p><p>Another major blizzard struck the Midwest in 1999, dropping <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/extremes/1999/january/blizzard99.html">22 inches of snow on Chicago</a> before temperatures plummeted to -20 degrees or lower in parts of Illinois on January 3 and 4. The National Weather Service ranked it as the second worst blizzard of the 20th century, behind only the blizzard of 1967.</p><p>Later that month in 1999, President Bill Clinton declared a disaster area in half of Illinois&rsquo; counties. Areas of Indiana were also declared disaster areas. The Midwest storm caught Detroit off guard but, <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/extremes/1999/january/blizzard99.html">according to Stanley A. Changnon of the NCDC</a>, &ldquo;Chicago was prepared. The city put 850 snow removal trucks on the streets (240 is the normal number for heavy snow).&rdquo;</p><p>The 1999 storm was slightly larger than the one in 1979, at least in terms of snowfall, but it doesn&rsquo;t carry the weight of a mayor&rsquo;s political career. It did, however, set some records. Lake Shore Drive was shut down altogether for the first time in history, and Interstate 65 in Northwest Indiana was also closed. Chicago Public Schools extended winter break by two days. By Jan. 9, one week after the storm, <a href="http://www.examiner.com/article/chicago-s-11th-year-anniversary-of-the-1999-new-years-snowstorm">only about half of Chicago students were back in class</a>.</p><p>Our most recent massive snowstorm &mdash; the 20.2-inch blizzard of 2011, responsible for the city&rsquo;s third highest snowfall on record &mdash; shares some things with its 1999 predecessor. <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/03/us-weather-chicago-idUSTRE71180W20110203">Chicago Public Schools were again closed</a>, for the first time since 1999, and cars were once again stranded on Lake Shore Drive.</p><p><strong>Climate change</strong></p><p>In terms of cold and snow, generally speaking, the trend is toward milder winters. How much milder Chicago&rsquo;s winters will become, and how quickly that will happen, is difficult to pinpoint.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/GILL%20COLD%20WEB.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Despite what this photo implies, Chicago winters are getting milder, generally. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" />&ldquo;This pattern we have been seeing &mdash; especially since the late 70s &mdash; is just this pattern of fewer days below zero, less snowfall and just overall some warmer conditions when you look at the average temperatures,&rdquo; said State Climatologist Jim Angel. &ldquo;And that kind of makes this one seem even more dramatic, I think, because we&rsquo;re not used to this kind of weather.&rdquo;</p><p>Climate change is <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/23/science/earth/23adaptation.html?pagewanted=all">making the baseline Chicago winter more mild</a> but, perversely, it might also make extreme bouts of cold more common. While the overall trend is toward warmer temperatures, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jan/10/white-house-climate-change-polar-vortex-google-hangout">some scientists think the off-kilter &quot;polar vortex&quot; that caused early 2014&#39;s frigid temperatures</a> could drift down from the Arctic more often due to climatic variations. If that proves true, future winters could paradoxically be milder, but more prone to bouts of extreme cold thanks to <a href="http://www.climate.gov/news-features/event-tracker/how-polar-vortex-related-arctic-oscillation">an unruly &quot;Arctic Oscillation.&quot;</a> (<a href="http://www.skepticalscience.com/pliocene-snapshot.html">It&rsquo;s been millions of years</a> since we&rsquo;ve had as much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as we do now, so we may see some strange or seemingly paradoxical climate and weather effects &mdash; <a href="http://www.northeastern.edu/news/2012/03/globalweirding/">some people even prefer the term &quot;global weirding&quot;</a> to describe the unexpected results of climate change.)</p><p>As we continue to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, scientists expect the average global temperature to increase. <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/2013/13">Last year was warmer and wetter than average for the contiguous U.S.</a>, NOAA said in January &mdash; a finding consistent with climate change.</p><p><strong>A silver lining?</strong></p><p>Ultimately agony is a matter of perspective when it come to winter weather.</p><p>Tim Gibbons of TSI Snow said it&rsquo;s important to remember the good times. The 54-year-old has been around for some mighty winters, but has only fond memories of the blustery late 1970s.</p><p>&ldquo;We would skate on frozen parks outside pretty much from Christmas to Valentine&rsquo;s Day, nonstop. They didn&rsquo;t plow the side streets at all back then,&rdquo; Gibbons said. &ldquo;We would skitch &mdash; or hang on the bumper of moving cars &mdash; for entertainment, to get places. It was really quite an interesting means of transportation.&rdquo;</p><p>Now that he&rsquo;s older, he admits business can be stressful during extreme winters. But he said that&rsquo;s not the whole story. His advice? People should help each other shovel out their cars (he&rsquo;s no fan of dibs), and remember that even the coldest winter&rsquo;s only temporary.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s time we all take a deep breath, count our blessings, soldier on in the true &lsquo;I will&rsquo; spirit of Chicago,&rdquo; Gibbons said. &ldquo;Hearty people live in Chicago. We get through our winters and we celebrate our summers as a result.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a href="http://cabentley.com/">Chris Bentley</a> is a reporter for Curious City. Follow him on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/Cementley">@Cementley</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 05 Feb 2014 07:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/just-how-bad-chicago-winter-109637 Snow, severe cold shuts down Northwest Indiana http://www.wbez.org/news/snow-severe-cold-shuts-down-northwest-indiana-109472 <p><p>Northwest Indiana road conditions are improving but the area is far from normal and may be days away from recovering from an arctic blast of super cold temperatures.</p><p>Motorists and truckers had to deal with closed roads and highways for much of Monday, and after briefly reopening, by 5 p.m., INDOT had once again closed I-65 due to hazardous road conditions; I 80/94 remains open.</p><p>Earlier in the day trucker Tom Kenman of Joliet, IL passed the time in the cab of his semi truck listening to music and reading. Kenman works for a contractor that delivers mail for the U.S. Postal Service. He&rsquo;s ready to return home after being stuck at a Speedway gas station near Interstate 65 and 61st Avenue in Merrillville. As of this morning, it didn&rsquo;t look good for Kenman.</p><p>&ldquo;Things were kind of hazardous. About 6 p.m. (Sunday), things were hazardous so I jumped off on Route (U.S.) 30. I do maybe 20, 25 mph. That&rsquo;s it. Even before they shut it down, I decided forget it. I-65 is a mess. I don&rsquo;t know what I&rsquo;m going to do.</p><p>With most restaurants and businesses closed, even a nearby McDonald&rsquo;s, Kenman waited it out slurping Speedway&rsquo;s coffee and munching doughnuts.&nbsp;</p><p>I-65 was closed to all traffic yesterday afternoon because of heavy snow and slippery conditions. Semi trucks were lined up along U.S. 30 in Merrillville, waiting for I-65 to reopen, along with nearby Interstate 80/94.</p><p>Kenman and other truckers finally got some good news in the afternoon, when the Indiana Department of Transportation reopened I-65 around 2 p.m.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Drivers are advised to use extreme caution, take it slow, and travel at their own risk. Like the majority of roads across Northwest Indiana, and the state, conditions are extremely hazardous and non-emergency travel is strongly discouraged,&rdquo; said INDOT spokesman Matt Deitchley.</p><p>But the respite on I-65 was short-lived as officials would shut it down again only a few hours later.</p><p>Earlier in the day, Deitchley told WBEZ that some drivers had been driving around protective barriers to keep them off of I-94.</p><p>&ldquo;Those roads are shut down, but people are still driving around the barricades anyway. INDOT and Indiana State Police don&rsquo;t have the manpower right now to physically stop these drivers, but the roads are closed,&rdquo; Deitchley said. &ldquo;They are taking their lives in their own hands, and jeopardizing the emergency personnel who may have to rescue them.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/NWI%20Snow%202.jpg" style="height: 263px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="Trucks are lined up near a Speedway gas station. This is not a truck stop but truckers had no where to go Monday because nearby I-65 was closed. (WBEZ/Michael Puente)" />Drivers should expect to continue to encounter slick conditions and blowing and drifting snow both on the main line interstates and ramps.</p><p>In fact, many motorists in Gary were struggling to drive along Broadway, the city&rsquo;s main drag, with cars getting stuck in snowdrifts.</p><p>Local officials had declared a state of emergency for Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties during Sunday&rsquo;s heavy snow storm.</p><p>Indiana Gov. Mike Pence ordered the Indiana National Guard to help stuck motorists along the highway.</p><p>Much of the state is dealing with heavy snow and severe temperatures but Pence acknowledged at a news conference today in Indianapolis that Northwest Indiana may have been hit the hardest.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">That&rsquo;s why the Republican governor was sending more resources to &ldquo;da Region,&rdquo; often divided from the rest of the state because of political and cultural differences.</div><p>&ldquo;That (Northwest Indiana) is an area of the state, particularly with lake-effect snow, that is no stranger to severe weather events,&rdquo; Pence said, &ldquo;but we&rsquo;re moving resources into the region to recognize that the combination of heavy snow and brutally cold temperatures and wind gusts represents a real public safety hazard.&rdquo;</p><p>Early Monday, even with warnings by police to stay off the roads, some had no choice but to head to work.</p><p>Hammond resident Gus Lopez said driving to his job at ArcelorMittal Steel in neighboring East Chicago felt odd.</p><p>&ldquo;It was really desolate out. Hardly anyone out driving,&rdquo; Lopez told WBEZ. &ldquo;It reminded me of my time in North Dakota, where this type of weather and this type of conditions is not unusual at all for folks up there, that far north.</p><p>And this winter at least, &quot;da Region&quot; is starting to feel more like North Dakota than Northwestern Indiana.</p><p>Most schools in Northwest Indiana will be closed Tuesday but government offices are expected to reopen.</p><p>The Indiana General Assembly is also expected to open its session down in Indianapolis, a day later than originally scheduled.</p><p><em>Follow WBEZ NWI Reporter Michael Puente on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews" target="_blank">@MikePuenteNews</a>. </em></p></p> Mon, 06 Jan 2014 19:10:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/snow-severe-cold-shuts-down-northwest-indiana-109472 Chicago warming centers: The options and the limits http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicago-warming-centers-options-and-limits-109470 <p><p><em>Editor&rsquo;s note: Our first answer to this question was put together while the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services was inundated with media and service requests concerning the frigid temperatures that arrived Sunday, Jan. 5. Spokesman Matt Smith was gracious enough to follow through with a comprehensive interview the following day. The current story reflects those comments and clarifications.</em></p><p>Caitlin Castelaz doesn&rsquo;t live in Chicago anymore, but that didn&rsquo;t stop her from watching news about <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/below-zero-temps-push-midwest-northeast-109464" target="_blank">the &ldquo;polar vortex&rdquo; that arrived in our region</a>. And, she said, she welled up with concern as her social media feeds filled with troubling updates and warnings. The former Rogers Park native thought about a fellow she used to pass frequently.</p><p>&ldquo;This guy &mdash; he was basically my neighbor,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;He lives under the train tracks for the El. I&rsquo;m thinking, Where&rsquo;s he gonna go? I&rsquo;m hoping he&rsquo;s got connections to go somewhere.&rdquo;</p><p>So Caitlin hopped on <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/" target="_blank">our website</a> from her cozy New York apartment and asked us:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>What are the capacities and limitations of city shelters during the cold months? How can Chicagoans help out?</em></p><p>As we and Caitlin prepped for this story, we thought we should expand the meaning of &ldquo;city shelters&rdquo; and, after a little digging, we were glad we did. The homeless are particularly vulnerable to the cold temps, but the city of Chicago understands that others sometimes need help, too. The city offers warming centers to anyone on the wrong side of a cold snap; one important caveat, though, is that the city offers safety during the cold, but not necessarily comfort.</p><p><strong>Capacity</strong></p><p>3,000. That&rsquo;s the number of beds Matt Smith from the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) said the city has available to those who need a safe, warm spot to sleep overnight during emergencies. Smith said that figure comprises approximately 600-700 beds in the shelter system. The rest serve as interim housing.</p><p dir="ltr">According to Smith, the system has not reached capacity since our sub-zero stretch hit Sunday, Jan. 5. (Smith estimates that 96 percent of beds were filled the evening of Monday, Jan. 6.) He said the city could add emergency bedding for an additional 500-600 people if needed.</p><p dir="ltr">Both Smith and the <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/oem.html" target="_blank">Office of Emergency Management and Communications</a> assured residents that no one who needs help will be turned away.</p><p dir="ltr">But the City of Chicago is not the only one providing emergency places to stay warm and sleep. Private organizations and nonprofits also offer spots to stay warm and sleep.</p><p>Kristine Kappel, who coordinates shelter services for Catholic Charities, wrote that as of Monday afternoon, &ldquo;At Catholic Charities in Cook and Lake Counties we have 287 shelter beds available and are at full capacity.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Chicago operates a dozen <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/fss/provdrs/serv/svcs/dfss_warming_centers.html" target="_blank">warming centers</a> throughout the city, many of which are offices or centers run by the Department of Family Support and Services. Notably, only the Garfield Center at 10 S. Kedzie Ave. offers overnight accommodations. Smith said that between Sunday, Jan. 5 and the morning of Tuesday, Jan. 7, approximately 1,500 people had used the city warming centers.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/caitlin-1.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="Caitlin Castelaz feels we can better protect people by knowing more about how social and other services operate during emergencies, including cold snaps. (Courtesy of Facebook)" /></p><p>Anyone who needs a spot to beat the cold can also go to <a href="http://www.ccc.edu/" target="_blank">City Colleges</a>, <a href="https://www.chipublib.org/" target="_blank">public libraries</a> and <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/oemc/general/PDF/Cold_Weather_Shelters_Map.pdf" target="_blank">police and fire stations across the city</a>. According to officer Marty Ridge, who works out of the 14th District station in Logan Square, these are meant to be places to warm up and beat the elements for a short time; there&rsquo;s no food or drink served. Police can coordinate a ride to a longer term solution &mdash; be that a warming center or a shelter.</p><p><strong>Limitations</strong></p><p>Aside from the Kedzie location, the warming centers offer limited hours, though the city has <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/fss/supp_info/CommunityCenters/WarmingCenterFlyers/010214WCenterFlyerExtendedHours.pdf" target="_blank">extended centers&rsquo; operations</a> during the current bout of dangerously low temperatures and high winds. Some city warming sites are open only to seniors.</p><p>Smith said that during non-emergency situations, there&rsquo;s a gap between when warming centers close and shelters open, leaving people with a few hours to kill before a warm space opens up.</p><p>&ldquo;By extending those hours, they can leave a warming center at 8pm and go right to a shelter,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Or if they&rsquo;re in the shelter system &nbsp;they can stay to just wait it out.&rdquo;</p><p>Half of the city&rsquo;s warming centers are for seniors, and those offer hot beverages and food year round, but the other six sites don&rsquo;t. That limitation means some people who do find relief from the cold must eventually head back into once they get hungry.</p><p>Several WBEZ reporters were turned away from reporting from inside warming sites, but West Side Bureau Reporter Chip Mitchell interviewed Jerome Williams, who spent Sunday evening at the Garfield Center. Williams reported that the bathrooms were in terrible shape.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s urine all over the floor. There&rsquo;s no door, and it&rsquo;s not cleaned right,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not nice for the kids to be in there. No door on the stall. None whatsoever. They say there&rsquo;s work going on it. They said that a couple of weeks ago.&rdquo;</p><p>Concerning this complaint, Smith said the warming centers are &ldquo;not luxurious&rdquo; and meant to simply keep people out of harm&rsquo;s way. &ldquo;Given the fact that people are sometimes in emergency situations, maybe someone will have an accident and they may not smell fresh. The point is it&rsquo;s an alternative to someone being out in the deadly cold, and it is deadly cold.&quot;</p><p><em>(Update: On Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 7 we received a message from 28th Ward Alderman Jason C. Ervin&#39;s office stating they reached out to&nbsp;Fleet and Facilities Management and the bathroom stall door situation &quot;... is being fixed as of this point.&quot;)</em></p><p>Another limitation of the shelter system is outreach. While the city and other agencies attempt to direct residents in need to available resources or shelters, those residents sometimes do not accept the offers. Officer Marty Ridge said it can be an issue of trust; some have had negative experiences at a shelter or they&rsquo;re reluctant to leave all of their belongings behind. Shelters won&rsquo;t necessarily hold someone&rsquo;s shopping cart full of belongings.</p><p>The city attempts to educate people living on the streets about available resources. Smith said the city collaborates with various agencies to step up that outreach ahead of and in times of extreme cold or heat.</p><p>&ldquo;We can&rsquo;t force someone to come in off the street, but we&rsquo;ll certainly try to assist them and work with them to get them to the point where they will accept our services,&rdquo; Smith said.</p><p><strong>So, what can Chicagoans do to help?</strong></p><ul><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr"><strong>Check on your neighbors, family and friends.</strong> This is especially the case with the elderly and those with disabilities. Make sure they have enough food, medication and any other necessary supplies, such as batteries or backup power. If you think someone in Chicago may need assistance you can&rsquo;t provide (e.g., a warm meal or a ride to a Chicago warming center) call 311.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr"><strong>Shovel sidewalks and curb ramps.</strong> It&rsquo;s common sense, but the longer someone takes to trudge from point A to point B, the longer they&rsquo;re exposed the elements and the danger from it. When you clear sidewalks and curb ramps, you help everyone get around more quickly and safely, especially those who use mobility devices such as wheelchairs. When sidewalks are deep with snow or ice, people sometimes resort to walking in the street, which presents additional dangers.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr"><strong>Donate warm clothing to local charities.</strong> It&rsquo;s never too late to donate new or used blankets, coats, gloves, snowpants and other cold weather gear. The Salvation Army, Catholic Charities and clothing donation bins accept clean items in good repair, year round.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr"><strong>Slow down, look around, be helpful.</strong> Whether you&rsquo;re driving, biking, walking or gazing out the window at the person trying to dig their car out of a snowbank, it never hurts to use that niceness that Midwesterners are known for and lend a hand. &nbsp;</p></li></ul><p><strong>Resources for getting help or helping others</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/311.html" target="_blank">311</a>: Call 311 for all requests for assistance within Chicago. The city can offer or otherwise coordinate wellness checks on you, your neighbors, friends or family. You can also learn about transportation options to warming centers. (In an emergency, of course dial 911.)</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/fss/provdrs/serv/svcs/dfss_warming_centers.html" target="_blank">Warming Centers</a>: The Department of Family Support and Services offers a dozen warming centers around Chicago, some specifically for seniors. During the cold snap in early January, the agency <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/fss/provdrs/serv/alerts/2014/jan/extended-hours-for-community-service-center-patrons.html" target="_blank">extended hours</a> at many centers.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/oemc/general/PDF/Cold_Weather_Shelters_Map.pdf" target="_blank">Cold Weather Shelters:</a> The city allows anyone seeking refuge from the cold to go to their closest police or fire station to stay warm. Capacity varies at each building, and oftentimes workers there will help connect people to a shelter or a warming center if needed.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/mayor/snowportal/chicagoshovels.html" target="_blank">Chicago Shovels</a>: This site, run by the city of Chicago, tracks snowplows, allows you to lend a hand to those who need assistance shoveling snow, and offers other apps for winter preparedness.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="https://webapps1.cityofchicago.org/volunteerregistry/" target="_blank">Emergency Assistance Registry for People with Disabilities or Special Needs</a>: This registry allows Chicagoans with disabilities or other special needs to voluntarily identify themselves as requiring assistance during emergencies. For example, the form notifies first responders that a resident relies on specific medical devices or can&rsquo;t communicate verbally.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.ready.gov/individuals-access-functional-needs" target="_blank">FEMA disaster preparedness for people with disabilities</a>: The Federal Emergency Management Agency provides a helpful kit to prepare for dangerous weather situations.</p><p>As for what the city and others agencies might do if another bout of extreme cold comes our way, Smith said &ldquo;All of Chicago&rsquo;s cold weather emergency plans are a process of evolution.&rdquo; He said changes come from experience (like he blizzard of 2011 prompting <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/new-escape-routes-lake-shore-drive-93621" target="_blank">new turnarounds</a> on Lake Shore Drive), and his department will be reviewing how the city handled this particular emergency and adapt their strategy if necessary. &nbsp;</p><p><em>Curious City tweets <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZCuriousCity" target="_blank">@WBEZCuriousCity</a></em></p></p> Mon, 06 Jan 2014 18:06:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicago-warming-centers-options-and-limits-109470 Chicago letter carriers carry on http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-letter-carriers-carry-109469 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/letter carrier.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Victor Austin works fast. He&rsquo;s got his mail presorted into bundles, and he pushes his mail cart forcefully through the snow-packed sidewalks. Despite being weighed down by layers of clothing, Austin moves quickly from gate to gate on a side street in Chicago&rsquo;s Lakeview neighborhood on the North Side. A good thing too, since this is the city&rsquo;s coldest Jan. 6 on record.</p><p>&ldquo;I got a sweater on, and I&rsquo;ve got a little thing covering my chest, and this coat right here,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;My long johns, my pants, and then these things right here,&rdquo; he added, pointing to standard, blue windbreaker pants issued by the U.S. Postal Service.</p><p>While many employers urged their employees to work from home, and city officials urged Chicagoans to stay indoors to avoid dangerously low temperatures, that wasn&rsquo;t an option for Austin and his fellow letter carriers with the USPS. Their jobs require them to work outside &ndash; even in the most adverse weather conditions.</p><p>On Monday, the USPS tried to make things easier for its employees, knowing wind chill temperatures were 35 degrees below zero. &ldquo;They let us know beforehand (to) take as little mail as possible, like the first and second class and the priority packages,&rdquo; Austin said. Still, he anticipated that his route would take the usual 4.5 hours.</p><p>Austin said getting through tough weather is largely a mental battle. Instead of thinking about the cold, he&rsquo;ll try to focus on warm places, like Florida. If he starts to get too cold, he said he might wait in the heated entryway of an apartment building, or in a restaurant, for a few minutes until he warms up a bit. Most important, he says, is to keep moving.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t really eat lunch &ndash; like, days like today I don&rsquo;t really eat no lunch until I&rsquo;m finished because as long as I keep moving, then my body (will) be warm,&rdquo; Austin said, not pausing as he continued moving between homes. &ldquo;Once I stop, then you have to start it back up again, then I&rsquo;m gonna be in trouble.&rdquo;</p><p>His advice to newbie letter carriers? &ldquo;Stay warm, dress in layers,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;If you get cold, go get warmed up, don&rsquo;t try to be no hero out here. Basically just be safe, use common sense.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 06 Jan 2014 17:23:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-letter-carriers-carry-109469 Is there a time and a place for fur? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-01/there-time-and-place-fur-105119 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/3701084_ac0f914a76.jpg" style="float: right; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="Flickr/Ti.mo" /><span id="internal-source-marker_0.04910148268735515">A few weeks ago my colleague </span><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-01/hot-style-cold-city-104770">Leah Pickett</a> wrote a blog post about how to stay warm yet remain fashionable when the temperatures dip, suggesting, to my chagrin, that black puffer coats are démodé (I got one for Christmas and I LOVE it. You will literally have to pry it from my cold, dead hands.)</div><p>I think there are small ways one can try to perk up a winter wardrobe (I choose to express myself with a pair of outlandish teal leather gloves) but at a certain temperature (26 degrees Fahrenheit), it all goes out the window. Earlier this week I walked the dog while wearing polka dot pajama pants over wicking running pants for an extra layer of warmth. Hat head is a small price to pay for an insulated noggin. &nbsp;The company <a href="http://www.sorel.com/Women/women,default,sc.html">Sorel</a> has launched a successful campaign convincing women that bulky, furry snowboots are a fashion statement (successful in that yours truly owns a pair of Helen of Tundra boots a few years ago and will wear them over said pajama pants.)<br /><br />In this vein, I have a theory that in Chicago, anyway, at a certain temperature, animal fur is considered slightly more tolerable.<br /><br />If you pressed me, I couldn&rsquo;t argue why humans should wear fur, just the same way I know deep in my soul that humans probably don&rsquo;t need to eat meat. We do it because it&rsquo;s enjoyable and feels nice and it&rsquo;s one of those ethical issues that, for some, is easy to not worry about. When some of us see a delicious buffalo wing, we don&rsquo;t envision a miserable, trapped chicken and when I wear my very warm fur scarf, it doesn&rsquo;t resemble a terrified, doomed fox (or raccoon? Or coyote? I have no idea.) It&rsquo;s a moral elision, where it&rsquo;s easy not to think too hard about it for those who don&rsquo;t want to.<br /><br />But a lady (or gent! Because I&rsquo;ve seen these guys) wearing a full-length fur coat on the bus in single-degree Chicago temperatures, stirs up far fewer objections, at least in my mind, than observing a fashionable young woman trotting around in a fur vest on Oak Street on a fall day*. The ends maybe do not justify the means but one fur coat looks like survival whereas the other simply is a sign of ostentatiousness. When the temperatures dip, wear what you want: pajamas, fur, a heating blanket plugged into a portable generator, whatever. Then again, perhaps it&rsquo;s not a measure of whether some fur is justified and some is not: perhaps when it&rsquo;s just that cold, one is too busy staying warm to have much of an opinion on what others are wearing.<br /><br />There are plenty of you out there for whom fur is never acceptable in any situation. But are there others out there who let their ethical (or fashionable) guard down the same time the mercury slides down?</p><p>*For some reason, fur looks much less strange on older people than it does on the young.</p></p> Thu, 24 Jan 2013 09:37:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-01/there-time-and-place-fur-105119 Chicago woman, 83, dies of cold exposure http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-woman-83-dies-cold-exposure-104102 <p><p>Authorities say an 83-year-old Chicago woman was the first cold-related death of the season in Cook County.</p><p>The Cook County Medical Examiner&#39;s Office says a relative found Florence Hawkins unresponsive in her bed. She was pronounced dead at her home on the city&#39;s South Side on Tuesday.</p><p>The medical examiner&#39;s office says an autopsy on Wednesday found Hawkins died of cold exposure and that heart disease was a contributing factor.</p><p>The National Weather Service reports that the low temperature on Tuesday was 17 degrees and Monday night&#39;s low was 23 degrees.</p><p>Authorities say there were at least seven cold-related deaths in Cook County during the cold season of 2011-2012 with the first reported on Dec. 3, 2011.</p></p> Thu, 29 Nov 2012 09:55:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-woman-83-dies-cold-exposure-104102 Snow ends, but dig out and recovery just beginning http://www.wbez.org/story/blizzard/forecast-includes-heavy-snow-strong-winds-thunderstorms-and-extreme-cold <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Lake Shore Drive bulldozer BLIZZARD - AP Kiichiro Sato.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>Updated: 3:09 PM</strong></p><p>Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley says the city's public schools will be open tomorrow. But Daley says there is still a &quot;long way to go&quot; as the city digs out from the third-largest winter storm in its history.</p><p>Daley spoke Thursday morning, two days after the snow started falling in Chicago. The storm left more than 20 inches of snow at O'Hare International Airport. The mayor says &quot;while all the snow has ended, the effects of the snow will be with us for a while.&quot;</p><p>Chicago's iconic Lake Shore Drive was reopened early Thursday morning, after being closed down since Tuesday night due to the massive snow storm that hit the city.</p><p>Crews continued working to clear and reopen Lake Shore Drive overnight, which was closed on Tuesday evening after blizzard conditions, snowdrifts and a series of traffic accidents made the road treacherous and impassable.</p><p>Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley&rsquo;s chief of staff, Raymond Orozco, told reporters Thursday morning that plowing the city&rsquo;s side streets are now the top priority.</p><p>&ldquo;Most of the focus has moved to the side streets, just eight hours after the storm ended,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>The announcement comes after crews worked through the night to re-open Lake Shore Drive around 5:30 Thursday morning. Orozco said the city has in its possession 519 vehicles that were abandoned on Lake Shore Drive during the snow storm. He said a <a href="http://www.alertchicago.org">website</a> has been created for vehicle owners to search for their license plates to find out where their cars are being held. Orozco addressed concerns from the public that they couldn&rsquo;t find where the city had taken their car which had been abandoned on Lake Shore Drive.&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;Because the situation was fluid as we got to a relocation site that may have been full, we moved that vehicle to another relocation site. So early on the situation was fluid.&rdquo;</p><p>Hundreds of motorists were stranded on the Drive as a result of the closure, and some waited for hours to be evacuated from their cars.</p><p>Frigid temperatures and subzero wind-chills threaten to make travel and recovery efforts difficult during the next few days.&nbsp; That's according to emergency management leaders with the City of Chicago.&nbsp;</p><p>During a news conference late Wednesday, city officials urged people to stay home if at all possible, as temperatures are expected to drop sharply during the next 12 hours.&nbsp; Public health officials, however, encouraged people to check on friends, family and neighbors.&nbsp; So far there have been at least four deaths attributed to the weather in the Chicago area.</p><p>Emergency officials are also urging those shoveling snow to be extra careful, especially those with heart conditions&nbsp; 40 people in the Chicago-area died of heart attacks sparked by shoveling snow during the major blizzard of 1999, according to the National Weather Service.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 01 Feb 2011 12:09:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/blizzard/forecast-includes-heavy-snow-strong-winds-thunderstorms-and-extreme-cold Bitter cold lingers over Chicago region http://www.wbez.org/story/cold/bitter-cold-lingers-over-chicago-region <p><p>The wind chill Friday morning is making the temperature feel like it's below zero. </p><p>Stephen Rodriguez is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. He said the wind chill is expected to taper off a bit as the day goes on.</p><p>&quot;Despite this ridge of high pressure moving over and sunny skies today, we can still only anticipate forecast highs trying to struggle to get out of the single digits today,&quot; he said.</p><p>It's expected to warm up just a little this weekend, getting into the teens. For Sunday's Bears' game, we're looking at a high of 20.</p><p>Meantime, Illinois officials say residents can take refuge at more than 120 warming centers, including the seven Illinois<br />Tollway Oases, as bitter cold settles over the state. The Illinois Department of Human Services says the other centers are located at IDHS offices throughout the state and will be open during regular business hours.</p><p>IDHS Secretary Michelle R.B. Saddler says the centers are a safe place to stay for people who need a warm place to go or who cannot afford to turn up the heat during the day.</p></p> Fri, 21 Jan 2011 14:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/cold/bitter-cold-lingers-over-chicago-region