The City of Chicago Reminds Residents to Be Prepared for the Bitter Cold and Snow Forecasted for Later This Week
The National Weather Service in Chicago has issued a Winter Storm Watch in effect from Thursday evening, December 22 until Saturday, December 24 at 6 a.m.
The Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) reminds residents to be prepared for the extreme cold and snow forecasted for later this week. OEMC will continue to monitor the incoming storm system with the National Weather Service and coordinate the City’s response.
Today, the National Weather Service in Chicago issued a Winter Storm Watch in effect from Thursday evening, December 22 until Saturday, December 24 at 6 am Impacts include falling and blowing snow resulting in white out conditions with zero visibility at times, making travel extremely difficult, if not impossible. Power outages will also be possible as a result of strong damaging wind gusts up to 55 mph
“OEMC encourages residents to plan ahead for cold temperatures, blowing snow and be prepared for dangerous driving conditions,” said OEMC Executive Director Rich Guidice. “If you must travel, share your plan with friends or family, use extreme caution, allow room between vehicles and yield to snow-plows and salt trucks.”
OEMC will keep the public informed when certain thresholds set by the National Weather Service are reached. These triggers are as follows:
- Winter Storm Watch: Chance for high-end winter impacts are increasing and possible. Issued within 36-48 hours in advance of conditions.
- Winter Weather Advisory: Potentially dangerous winter weather is expected within the next 12-36 hours; Travel difficulties expected.
- Winter Storm Warning: Dangerous winter weather is expected in the next 12-36 hours or is occurring; Travel problems are expected.
- Blizzard Warning: Severe winter weather is expected in the next 12-36 hours or is occurring – including white out conditions. Do not travel.
- Snow Squall Warning: Rapid onset, brief, intense bursts of snow and strong winds with significant threat to travelers. Delay travel.
Severe cold temperatures, strong winds and snow can cause additional hazards, whether home or traveling, so it’s important to stay informed. OEMC issues several alerts and notifications to keep people up to date on weather conditions and emergencies.
- Notify Chicago: Sign up for emergency alerts at www.NotifyChicago.org
- CHILAKE: For lakefront notices including flooding, TEXT “CHILAKE” to 7-8-0-1-5
- CHIBIZ: Business updates, TEXT “CHIBIZ” to 6-7-2-8-3
The Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) activates warming areas at the City’s six community service centers when temps are at 32 degrees or below.
- The warming areas are open Monday-Friday, 9 am to 5 pm
- On evenings, weekends or holidays, city-operated facilities including libraries and park facilities might also serve as warming areas, if needed.
- Residents must wear a face covering while in the warming areas.
- The Garfield Community Service Center at 10 South Kedzie, is open on a 24-hour basis to connect families and residents to emergency shelter.
- Those seeking a warm place to go after hours can also call 3-1-1 to be connected with available services. Individuals requiring emergency overnight shelter should also call 3-1-1, visit 311.Chicago.gov or download the CHI311 app to ensure residents are aware of the City's designated warming areas. Residents are also encouraged to check on relatives, neighbors and friends during a winter weather emergency.
- A list of community service center locations is available along with information and multilingual fliers containing warming center information in English, Spanish and Polish also are posted on DFSS's website at Chicago.gov/FSS.
The Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS) manages more than 9,400 lane miles of roadway and maintains a fleet of over 300 snow vehicles that are fully prepared to respond to winter weather events. DSS is also prepared with 425,000 tons of salt stationed at salt piles throughout the city. Safety is the City's top priority, and DSS staff continually monitors the weather and ground conditions and adjusts resources as needed.
The City’s winter overnight parking ban is in effect from December 1, 2022 through April 1, 2023, to ensure the DSS crews can quickly salt and plow the streets during a winter storm. The ban impacts approximately 107 miles of Chicago streets daily from 3:00 am to 7:00 am, and signage is permanently posted along the affected routes. Residents are encouraged to check the posted street signs for parking restrictions.
The Department of Transportation (CDOT) reminds all home, business, and property owners to clear snow from all sidewalks adjacent to their property, including any crosswalk ramps. Snow should not be shoveled into the right-of-way, which includes: transit stops and bus pads, parking spaces, bike lanes, bike racks, Divvy stations, and any other space where snow impedes traffic of any kind. Property owners responsible for a corner lot must remove snow and ice from sidewalks on all sides of the building and from corner sidewalk ramps. CDOT is responsible for salting and plowing the nearly 40 miles of protected bike lanes in Chicago. The public can report uncleared sidewalks and bike lanes by calling 3-1-1, visiting 311.Chicago.gov, or by using the CHI 311 app.
Business Affairs & Consumer Protection (BACP) is reminding business licensees that it is their duty to remove sidewalk snow and ice as outlined in the Municipal Code of Chicago 4-4-310 and 10-8-180. Each licensee must remove snow and ice from the sidewalk abutting the licensed premises and any sidewalk ramps intersecting such sidewalks, creating a clear path of at least five feet in width. Businesses that do not comply can face fines of up to $1,000 per day of violation.
The Chicago Fire Department does not recommend using space heaters; however, if used, be sure they are UL certified and at least 3 feet from anything that can ignite. Use of a space heater in children’s rooms should be monitored closely as children sometimes move them close to or into the bed with tragic results. If extension cords are used, they should be rated at 15 amps minimum and never put cords under carpet. With the added demand on furnaces and boilers, CFD also reminds residents are required by ordinance to have working carbon monoxide detectors to protect against carbon monoxide leaks from a heating system that could be fatal over time. Those seeking access to warming centers and/or experiencing insufficient heat are encouraged to contact 3-1-1 for immediate assistance. Also, be sure to keep smoke detectors in working order.
The Department of Water Management reminds residents to prevent frozen pipes, make sure that warm air is circulating throughout the home and keep a trickle of water running. If pipes freeze, do not use candles or any open flame to thaw them. Use a hair dryer or heating pad. For more info visit www.chicago.gov/water
Chicago Animal Care and Control reminds residents that winter is a season of bitter cold and numbing wetness. Help your pets remain happy and healthy during the colder months by following these simple guidelines. Don't leave dogs outdoors when the temperature drops. Most dogs, and all cats, are safer indoors, except when taken out for exercise. Regardless of the season, shorthaired, very young or old dogs and all cats should never be left outside without supervision. Short-coated dogs may feel more comfortable wearing a sweater or coat during walks.
- Motorists should take extra precautions to winterize vehicles and have necessary supplies on-the-go. Keep in mind, disabled vehicles or distracted driving can cause accidents, impact traffic and others or requiring emergency services.
- Residents should know the signs and care of frostbite and hypothermia. For Winter preparation information visit, Chicago.gov/OEMC for details and links to other local, state and federal resources.
- Avoid unnecessary trips outside-if you must go out, limit the time you stay outside.
- Wear several layers of loose, warm cloth.
- Keep your head, hands and feet covered when outdoor.
- Stay dry, because moisture can damage the insulating effectiveness of clothing.
- Pay extra attention to your daily needs: get enough sleep, eat high energy foods, drink warm beverages to help your body stay warm, and avoid alcoholic beverages.
For additional information on emergency preparedness information, visit the OEMC website at Chicago.gov/OEMC. Follow the Office of Emergency Management and Communications on Facebook(@coemc), Twitter (@ChicagoOEMC) and Instagram (chicago_oemc_911).
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