Chicago deep freeze causes delays, closings Tuesday - Dallas News |

Chicago deep freeze causes delays, closings Tuesday

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Chicago's deep freeze continued Tuesday morning, causing public transportation delays, extended school closings and at least 60 crashes on area expressways.

The National Weather Service reported temperatures at O'Hare International Airport were at 2 degrees at 3:50 p.m. and wind chills at minus 15.

The historically cold temperatures wreaked havoc on the Metra rail system after temperatures dropped to 16 below Monday morning and wind chills plummeted to minus-42.

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Following the cancellation of numerous Metra trains Tuesday morning on the BNSF line, Metra officials confirmed that several trains will be added to keep the usual schedule on track.

Metra spokesman Tom Miller said the previous cancellations were related to the inclement weather and that Metra will be operating on modified schedules for the BNSF Railway.

Train No. 1241 and 1255 were added Tuesday afternoon and will now replace train No. 49, Miller said. Meanwhile, train No. 1373, which is scheduled to make stops in Naperville and 59, will also stop at Downers Grove, Main, Belmont and Lisle, Miller added.

Train No. 1249 remains canceled, however.

Across the rest of the rail system, trains on the Union Pacific/North Line, Union Pacific/Northwest Line, Milwaukee District/West Line and Union Pacific/West Line were all experiencing delays of as 3:30 p.m., according to Metra's website.

Services for the CTA's Yellow Line train have been suspended after a train derailed Tuesday afternoon in the Rogers Park neighborhood on the North Side.

The train derailed while approaching the Howard station at 7519 N. Paulina St. about 2:10 p.m., according to CTA spokesperson Catherine Hosinki. The three passengers on the two-car train were able to go to the head car and get off onto the platform, CTA spokesperson Tammy Chase said. No one was injured.

The CTA temporarily also shut down the busy Chicago/State Red Line station to northbound CTA trains after a water pipe busted. The northbound trains began bypassing the Chicago/State station about 4 a.m. Tuesday after water from the busted pipe coated the mezzanine with ice, rendering it too hazardous to allow customers to get on or off the train on that side of the tracks, said CTA spokesperson Steve Mayberry. Service resumed as of 6:55 a.m.

Blue Line rider Brian Devereux shared his winning combination for warmth as he stood on the Blue Line platform at Addison: "Big winter jacket, two pairs of pants, three socks, girlfriend's boots."

From midnight to about 6:30 a.m., about 60 crashes -- all at least partially related to icy road conditions -- were reported on interstates in the Illinois State Police Chicago district, state police said.

Chicago Public Schools remained closed Tuesday, as did most suburban districts and private schools.

The low temperature Tuesday was again expected to be minus 16, with temperatures warming to a high of 2 to 6 degrees in the afternoon, according to National Weather Service Meteorologist Richard Castro. Snow depth at O'Hare is 11 inches, he added.

More than 1,000 flights were canceled at O'Hare as of 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, and delays were averaging 20 minutes, according to the city Department of Aviation.

More than 180 flights were canceled at Midway, and though most flights were on time as of 3:30 p.m. and a "handful" were experiencing 30-minute delays.

Temperatures will slowly rise later this week. Wednesday's high is expected in the upper teens. Thursday's high is expected in the mid-20s, and the high Friday will be in the mid-30s.

Area hospitals have treated several people for frostbite and other weather-related issues since record-breaking temperatures descended on the Chicago area.

Two people have been treated for frostbite at Swedish Covenant Hospital in the North Side Lincoln Square neighborhood, a statement from the hospital said.

The first, a 64-year-old homeless woman, was released in good condition Monday afternoon; while a 36-year-old man was released in good condition Tuesday morning, the statement said.

Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn has also treated two patients for frostbite, according to spokesman Mike Maggio.

A man who had been working outside was treated for second-degree frostbite to his ears and released Monday, Maggio said. A second person was treated for frostbite Tuesday morning and released.

"We haven't seen a lot of cases," Maggio said, noting that the hospital had seen more patients from weather-related crashes than frostbite cases.

In the past 24 hours, the emergency room at Northwestern Memorial "has seen 10 cases of cold related issues (only one of frostbite) and an additional 10 patients for slips and falls," spokeswoman Sheila Galloro said.

At Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, "We have seen four cases of frostbite and four people with hypothermia," spokeswoman Nora Dudley said.

NorthShore University HealthSystem (Evanston, Highland Park, Skokie and Glenbrook hospitals) has seen "three cases of frostbite and one heart attack, possibly related to shoveling," according to spokeswoman Collette Urban.

Sherman Hospital in Elgin had three cases of frostbite in the last two days, according to Advocate spokesperson Camille Vicino. Advocate Trinity Hospital on the South Side has seen five cases of frostbite since Monday.

Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove had seen 26 falls and 10 motor vehicle crashes, all of which were weather-related, Vicino said. At Advocate South Suburban Hospital, two people were treated for frostbite and another person for hypothermia.

A spokeswoman for Little Company of Mary Hospital and Health Care Centers in Evergreen Park said, "We did see a few cases of frostbite."

At University of Chicago Medical Center, there was only one confirmed case of frostbite, according to spokesperson Tiffani C. Washington.

"We've had six or seven people come to the ER just to escape the cold," Washington added.

While the number of frostbite patients a Chicago hospital may treat varies from year to year depending on temperature, frostbite patients aren't unusual, according to Swedish Covenant spokesman Nick Przybyciel.

"The number of patients we've seen come through our emergency department over the last few days isn't unusual for a cold snap of this severity, where the city had enough time to provide warning and implement emergency plans," Przybyciel said.

In west suburban Aurora, the Fire Department has responded to 50 ambulance requests in the last 24 hours, Lt. Craig Mateski reported. Of those, "19 were due to weather-related auto accidents, various slips and falls; and two were related to frostbite."

Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove has not had any reported cases of frostbite, but has "seen 26 falls and 10 motor vehicle crashes, all weather-related," spokeswoman Camille Vicino said.

Meanwhile, four men died after suffering heart attacks while shoveling snow, including a 48-year-old man from Humboldt Park; two men, ages 62 and 63, from Joliet; and a 57-year-old man from Bolingbrook.

Gov. Pat Quinn issued a statewide disaster declaration Monday, which allowed him to activate the Illinois National Guard to assist state and local emergency responders.

About 1,050 homeless people spent Sunday night at the Pacific Garden Mission, the city's largest homeless shelter. "There are only 999 beds, so we set up mats on the ground," said Phil Kwiatkowski, president of the mission. "I expect many of them will stay a few nights."

City officials reiterated this piece of advice: If you can, stay inside.

Many people heeded the advice. And many of those ordered pizzas.

"Folks have been very receptive to us," said Tony Medina, a delivery man with Father and Son pizzeria in Logan Square. "They like the fact that we're coming out and going out of our way, and what we're going through to get to their house, and so they're extra generous and very nice to us."

Chicagoans documented the extreme conditions on Twitter. One point of fascination was the frozen Chicago River, which the Chicago Fire Department quickly warned is not thick enough to walk or skate on.

"Portions of the river are ice-covered ... [But] the river is always in motion. The movement is hard to freeze," said Fire Media Affairs Director Larry Langford, who noted ice-cutting equipment — if needed — is available to make a path for rescue boats.

Numerous videos of Chicagoans throwing boiling water in the air and watching it crystallize were posted to the Internet. Others suggested blowing soap bubbles and watching them freeze. One person on Twitter timed how long it took his dog's poop to freeze: less than 30 seconds.

With the risk of pipes freezing, plumbers were met with smiles at front doors across the city.

"Today we've probably had about a dozen calls we couldn't go to, just because we don't have the manpower," said plumber Tom McHugh, of Rob West Plumbing in Humboldt Park. "The calls we're getting have mainly been for frozen pipes. ... Most of our calls today were from customers who were calling as many plumbing companies as they could, hoping one would come out."

For those who choose to venture out Tuesday into the slightly-warmer weather, the Adler Planetarium planned to reopen, as did Brookfield Zoo — both of which were closed on Monday. The Museum of Science and Industry is closed Tuesday, and Lincoln Park Zoo was again open with abbreviated hours. The Field Museum is also open, as it was Monday.

Cook County Circuit Courts will remain open Tuesday.

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