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‘Life-threatening’ temperatures hit record daily low in Chicago

A woman walks down a sidewalk, Monday morning as the Chicago area experiences a snow storm ahead of brutal cold temperatures later in the week. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Temperatures fell early Wednesday to make it the coldest Jan. 30 in Chicago on record.

By 4 a.m., it was already minus 19 degrees, which beats the last record daily low of minus 15 on Jan. 30, 1966, the National Weather Service said.

Temperatures will continue to fall throughout Wednesday, possibly reaching between minus 20 and minus 28 degrees, the weather service said.

The wind chill will reach “extremely dangerous” levels of 50 to 55 degrees below zero, the weather service is forecasting.

“It’s about as bad as it gets in this part of the world,” weather service meteorologist Mark Ratzer said.

The record all-time low — the lowest recorded temperature in Chicago ever — is minus 27 degrees, the weather service said. That was set in 1985.

The temperature will remain at “life-threatening” levels through Thursday morning, the weather service said. The freezing conditions could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 10 minutes.

A wind chill warning lasts through Thursday morning for northern Illinois and northwest Indiana, the weather service said. A wind chill of minus 30 to minus 60 degrees is possible.

The extreme cold was already affecting commuter trains. Amtrak and the South Shore Line suspended most of their Wednesday service. Metra trains were operating on a modified schedule.

Chicago Public Schools canceled classes for Wednesday and Thursday in anticipation of the dangerous cold.