Already locked in a deep freeze, Chicago saw over a foot of new snowfall Monday.
Snow was expected to start falling Sunday night and could continue until Tuesday night, the National Weather Service said.
It will hit as Chicago is trying to recover from a brutally cold weekend. With highs in the single digits, workers from the Night Ministry were out and about on Sunday, checking on homeless individuals and offering help.
After an expected dusting of less than an inch Sunday, lake-effect snow on Monday brought just under 16 inches at Midway Airport, the weather service said. More snow likely will follow Tuesday. About seven inches were reported at O’Hare Airport.
Meanwhile, Sunday’s high temperature peaked at just 4 degrees, breaking the record for the lowest high temperatures on Valentine’s Day — 8 degrees, recorded in 1943. Nighttime temperatures could dip as low as -7, with wind chills potentially dropping to -28, the weather service reported. Monday saw temperatures as high as 12 degrees during the day and as low as 1 degree at night with wind chills bottoming out at -12 degrees.
In those temperatures, frostbite is possible in fewer than 10 minutes, the weather service warned. Temperatures aren’t expected to climb above freezing until next Sunday.
Amid the lengthy deep-freeze, teams of outreach workers fanned out across the city this weekend to offer assistance to homeless Chicagoans.
Stephan Koruba, a nurse practitioner with the Night Ministry, stopped at encampments and other sites Sunday to ensure homeless individuals aren’t suffering from frostbite or hypothermia and offer blankets, gloves, hand warmers and food to those weathering the cold.
“These folks are socially isolated by definition,” Koruba said while working under a viaduct near Lower Michigan Avenue and Illinois Street. “Just for instance, you come up to someone sleeping and you’re not even sure they’re sleeping under that stack of clothes. You’ve gotta try to get to them before it becomes dangerous and they lose their life.”
Marcus Carter, 50, originally from the Near West Side, was among those accepting help from Koruba and his team Sunday. Carter, who lost his home when his mother died last January, noted living on the streets this past year has been “terrible” and said he has been seeking a pathway out of homelessness.
“I just got on Social Security. I want an apartment, man,” he said. “I’ll pay anything. Just get me off the streets. I want a place to live. I want a roof over my head. I don’t want to live like this.”
The Salvation Army has spent the weekend doing similar outreach work at 22 sites across the city, including 12 homeless encampments. That outreach effort, put together by the city’s Department of Family and Support Services, includes the distribution of food and winter clothing but also gives homeless residents the opportunity to get out of the cold – albeit temporarily.
But as of Sunday afternoon, spokeswoman Katie Heinz Pfingsten said the outreach workers still hadn’t transported anyone to city-run warming centers. Koruba acknowledged some homeless individuals don’t want to leave their encampments for a shelter or hotel because they fear their personal effects will be tossed out.
“That’s why some of the folks who are sticking around behind at an encampment will keep an eye on other peoples’ stuff,” he said. “Not everybody has that level of trust with their neighbor at their encampments, but it’s not uncommon.”
Despite the extreme weather, Carter said he would rather be under the downtown viaduct than at a shelter. He noted some shelters require visitors to leave early in the morning, and he worries his personal items could be stolen.
“It’s not a good place to be sometimes,” he said.
Contributing: Manny Ramos, David Struett