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From winter parking bans to snow removal, the city’s gearing up for harsh weather, and you should, too

Here are some things to know as Chicago braces for cold temps and heavy snow.

A driver walks over to the snow plow inside the new salt dome, Monday, Nov. 29, 2021 at 2555 W. Grand Ave in West Town
The city is bracing for another cold winter, and reminding Chicagoans to stay safe and warm as temperatures continue to drop
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

It looks like it’s going to be another harsh winter in “Chiberia,” and city officials are gearing up for plummeting temperatures and heavy snowfall while advising Chicagoans on how to best prepare for the frightful weather.

The executive director of the city’s office of emergency management, Richard Guidice, said Monday the city expects areas of “deep cold” and the “potential for above average precipitation” this winter.

“Basically, your typical Chicago winter,” he said.

With that in mind, the city is preparing for the frigid months with 425,000 tons of salt and 300 plows and other vehicles to help remove snow and ice, including 20 new salt spreaders.

Chicagoans are encouraged to stay up to date on weather conditions and emergencies by signing up for alerts from the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications at notifychicago.org.

“When you’re on the roads, obviously we encourage everyone to drive carefully and considerately if you have to go out, but please listen to the city alerts,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.

On Monday, Lightfoot also touted the city’s new massive salt dome. The facility, located at 2555 W. Grand Ave., is 250 feet in diameter and can hold up to 60,000 tons of salt.

A bulldozer and a snow plow inside the new salt dome, Monday, Nov. 29, 2021 at 2555 W. Grand Ave in West Town. | Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times
The new salt dome in West Town will help city workers keep the streets safe from hazardous ice during the winter months, officials said.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Beyond a nuisance, the low winter temperatures and heavy snowfall can be dangerous, Lightfoot said.

When temperatures fall to 32 degrees or below, the city will activate warming areas at its six community service centers. Most centers will be open on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but hours will be extended during extreme temperatures. The Garfield Community Service Center at 10 S. Kedzie Ave. is open 24/7 to connect families and residents to emergency shelters.

The city’s Department of Family and Support Services will also be making wellness checks to the elderly and unsheltered residents throughout the winter.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks about staying safe from the cold conditions of winter, Monday, Nov. 29, 2021 at the new salt dome at 2555 W. Grand Ave in West Town. | Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times
Mayor Lightfoot encouraged Chicagoans to seek shelter when temperatures drop and to stay up to date with city alerts
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Officials urge the public to call 311 if they see someone trying to survive the cold on the street, or if they know of a friend or relative who may need assistance during the extreme temperatures.

“That simple call can save someone’s life,” said Brandie Knazze, the department’s commissioner.

Additionally, starting Wednesday, Dec. 1 the city’s annual overnight parking ban goes into effect.

The ban will be enforced from 3 to 7 a.m. daily through April 1, regardless of snowfall amounts. It will impact approximately 107 miles of city streets, and signs are permanently posted along the affected routes.

Parked snow plows, Monday, Nov. 29, 2021 at the Salt Dome at 2555 W. Grand Ave in West Town. | Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times
Chicago drivers who do not comply with the city’s overnight parking risk a minimum $150 towing fee, a $60 ticket and a storage fee of $25 per day.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

A separate snow-related parking ban exists for another 500 miles of Chicago roads and can be activated after there are at least two inches of snow on the street, no matter the time of day or date.

Drivers who do not comply with the city’s overnight parking risk a minimum $150 towing fee, a $60 ticket and a storage fee of $25 per day.

While Lightfoot encouraged everyone to seek shelter indoors during the cold, she advised Chicagoans to continue to take appropriate precautions against COVID.

“You need to remain diligent when you’re indoors,” the mayor said.