Polar plummet closes schools, foils travel, irks aldermen, Tweeters

Written By BY MITCH DUDEK Staff Reporter Posted: 01/28/2014, 08:31am
Array Sea smoke rises off the lake and steam flies from the buildings of the Chicago skyline as temperatures fell below zero Monday morning. | Craig Newman/Sun-Times

Dangerously frigid wind chills expected to reach 35 below zero prompted Chicago Public Schools to remain closed Tuesday, trains to be delayed Monday, flights to be canceled — and aldermen to grouse. By 7 a.m. Tuesday, the wind chill was already minus 30 — and falling.

And the latest arctic blast spurred a string of profanity-laced tweets as if weather-weary Chicagoans were screaming into a digital pillow.

“I’m freezing my ass off and the heat is on full blast. Damn you Chiberia,” read one of the milder ones.

With a possible record-setting low of 16 below zero — without the wind chill — expected early Tuesday, CPS canceled class for the second consecutive day and the fourth day this month.

The record low for the date is 13 below zero, and the temperature at O’Hare had already hit minus 11 by dawn Tuesday.

Temperatures might not rise above the single digits until Wednesday, when the city will experience a slight warm-up, with temperatures climbing into the teens. A wind chill warning is in effect until 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Several aldermen, pointing to the burden placed on parents, called for a change in policy that would leave school doors open for kids to use the gym or participate in art projects.

“I understand why school’s closed. But do you have any idea where my kids can go?” asked Ald. “Proco” Joe Moreno (1st).

Ald. Rey Colon (35th) said: “Even the polar vortex doesn’t change the fact that parents still have to go to work.”

Catholic schools will be canceled on an individual basis.

No trips for stir-crazy kids to the several of the city’s bigger museums, though. The Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Museum of Science and Industry, and Adler Planetarium will be closed again Tuesday. The Art Institute of Chicago remained opened.

Metra officials warned of possible delays Tuesday because of subzero temperatures that require trains to run 10 mph slower than normal. Monday’s frigid weather delayed trains by an average of 10 minutes, but none were canceled.

Temperatures could again cause air travel chaos Tuesday. At O’Hare International Airport, more than 435 flights were canceled Monday, while at least 80 flights were canceled at Midway.

Many disheartened Chicagoans turned to Twitter to voice their frustrations.

“It’s so cold in Chicago that I can’t even think of how to be funny about it. It just sucks. It’s not funny,” tweeted one.

The second wave of dangerously cold weather sharpened the divide between Chicagoans who love to complain about the weather and those who don’t want to hear it.

Amy Finger, 28, dressed in multiples of two, made her stance clear Monday while heading home from the Loop to Wicker Park.

“You don’t have any control over it, so what’s the point of complaining. Just put your hat on and shut up.”

Ashley Pipes, 29, of River North, maintains an optimistic outlook: “The weather sucks, but hang in there, because summer in Chicago is the best.”

Contributing: Stefano Esposito and Fran Spielman

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