The big, local shutdown started late Tuesday afternoon as schools, county courts, park districts, libraries and even trash haulers braced for temperatures headed to minus 28.
Many schools opted to close through Thursday rather than call in students on a morning when temperatures will just begin to recover from wind-chill factors predicted as low as minus 54 for two days.
The Will County Courthouse and all other county government facilities not part of 24-hour operations will be closed until 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
“We’re supposed to get a little bit of a break at noon Thursday,” county communications director Anastasia Tuskey said.
The “break” is a forecast of a high of zero degrees Thursday.
More warm days are ahead, with the National Weather Service forecasting temperatures in the 20s by Friday, 30s by Saturday and even 40s by Sunday and Monday.
Until then, people are advised to stay at home if they can.
Those who don’t have homes have been filling up shelters at MorningStar Mission and Daybreak Center in Joliet. MorningStar is keeping its drop-in center for men open all day through Friday.
“When it’s cold like this, as long as they’re cooperative and not causing disturbances, we allow them to stay,” Executive Director Sandi Perzee said. “None of us want anyone out in the cold.”
Women and families with no place else to go could go to a 24-hour warming center at Daybreak Center, 611 E. Cass St. Daybreak is operating a 24-hour warming center during the sub-zero temperatures.
Extra staff is working at Daybreak with “cold weather gear for those who need it and plenty of food to accommodate everyone,” the center said in a statement.
Families with kids home from school were getting the message to keep them in the house rather than venture outside looking for something to do.
The Joliet Park District announced Monday that it would close all facilities and programs Wednesday rather than risk having people come out in the cold.
“We’re not going to put our patrons and our staff in that predicament,” Park District Executive Director Tom Carstens said.
The Joliet Public Library closed both branches at 5 p.m. Tuesday “before it gets ridiculously cold,” Library Director Megan Millen said. The libraries will reopen at 1 p.m. Thursday.
Temperatures were headed to minus 26 Tuesday night and minus 28 Wednesday night, according to the National Weather Service. Wind-chill factors through Wednesday are expected to reach as low as minus 54.
Waste Management is not picking up trash Wednesday or Thursday.
Spokeswoman Lisa Disbrow said people with service scheduled for Wednesday through Friday should put out trash Friday. Whatever is not picked up Friday will be collected Saturday.
Many schools weren’t taking a chance on putting students out on the street waiting for buses in the bitter weather, and a number of school districts called off school both Wednesday and Thursday. They included Joliet Public Schools District 86, Troy School District 30-C, Joliet Township High School District 204, Plainfield School District 202, Lincoln-Way High School District 210 and New Lenox School District 122.
Schools posted closing updates on their websites throughout the day Tuesday.
Joliet Junior College canceled classes at 4 p.m. Tuesday and will not resume classes until Thursday.