CHICAGO — Brutal cold and dangerous wind chills moving into Illinois prompted dozens of school districts, including Chicago Public Schools, to cancel Wednesday classes.
More districts were expected to decide early in the morning whether to close, and communities around the state were opening warming shelters.
In Chicago, where thousands of children walk to schools outside of their neighborhoods, the district was keeping its school buildings open in case some still showed up. Libraries and park district buildings also will be open during normal hours.
Temperatures in northern Illinois will fall to about 7 degrees below zero overnight, with wind chills of minus 25 or colder, National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Bardou said.
Bardou said Wednesday's high might not rise above zero in northern Illinois, with wind chills of around 25-below, while central Illinois will get progressively colder during the day. Springfield's temperature will fall from about 3 degrees in the morning to about minus 7 in the afternoon, with wind chills of 22- to 32-below.
He said people should stay indoors, if possible, and cover all exposed skin if they must go out, because frostbite can occur within minutes in such extreme cold.
The Illinois State Police cautioned drivers to stock their vehicles with extra water, food and warm clothing, and Illinois Tollway authorities were activating special road patrols to help anyone who might become stranded.
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