How cold is it?
It’s so cold that Thursday may feel warm to many if temperatures rise to nearly zero degrees as predicted.
A reading of minus 23 Wednesday morning at O’Hare International Airport was the lowest Jan. 30 temperature ever measured in the Chicago region.
“That took care of the record low for this day, which was minus 15 on Jan. 30, 1966. We blew right through that,” said Todd Cluber, meteorologist at the National Weather Service station in Romeoville.
Historical data at the National Weather Service is based on temperature readings at O’Hare.
The Wednesday low recorded at Joliet Regional Airport was minus 21, a likely record for the date in Joliet, as well.
It was not an all-time low for the Chicago region, which was minus 27 set Jan. 20, 1985.
As predicted, winds at 15 mph produced wind chills in the minus 40 range, keeping people indoors as the life-threatening cold shut down schools, courts, government offices, libraries and many businesses.
Most schools will not resume classes until Friday, although government offices and libraries planned to reopen gradually.
Homeless shelters filled up Tuesday night and Wednesday as people sought refuge from the cold.
“Too much wind. Last night was too much wind,” said Joshua Allotui, who came in out of the cold Tuesday night to sleep at MorningStar Mission in Joliet and was staying warm there Wednesday.
Not everyone stayed inside, however.
Clifton Bealer, a manager at Home Depot in Joliet, said the store was getting customers.
“Everybody likes salt and heaters and their normal household projects,” Bealer said. “Everything is fine and dandy at your Joliet Home Depot.”
Longtime friends Tonya Woods and Tennetta Baker met for lunch at the Big Apple Pancake House in Joliet.
“We don’t mind fighting this hawk,” Woods said of the bitter cold, “to spend some we time and catch up with each other.”
The cold weather, however, kept many people home, and traffic on Joliet streets and passing interstates was light Wednesday.
The weather will continue to have an effect Thursday, although business at government offices will begin to return to normal.
The Will County Courthouse and county offices were slated to reopen at 12:30 p.m. Thursday.
The Joliet Park District planned to reopen its facilities Thursday. The Joliet Public Library is scheduled to reopen at 1 p.m.
Most schools will remain closed Thursday with severe cold temperatures expected to remain into the early morning hours.
Waste Management suspended garbage pickup until Friday. The hauler is advising Wednesday, Thursday and Friday customers to put out their trash Friday. Whatever is not collected Friday will be picked up Saturday, a spokeswoman said.
The hauler is not picking up any recycling until next week.
The forecast for Thursday is a high of minus 3 with the temperature stabilizing at night at minus 2. A half-inch of snow is in the forecast during the day with another 1 to 3 inches expected at night.
The winter weather, however, moderates Friday with a forecast high of 25 and a low of 16.
Temperatures will rise through the weekend with the National Weather Service forecast calling for highs of 41 Saturday, 46 Sunday and 49 Monday.