31st St. Harbor

A view of East Hyde Park at sunrise, taken from 31st St. Harbor during a cold spell in early 2014. 

After being pummeled by two snowstorms, a cold snap will settle over Chicago through the middle of February. 

January averaged several degrees warmer than “normal” before snow fell the last week of the month; the storm of Jan. 26 was the first time more than 6 inches fell since Nov. 26, 2018. The subsequent storm on Jan. 30 made it the first time two storms brought 6 or more inches of snow in one week since January 2014.

Meanwhile, the polar vortex, the swirling bitterly cold air around the North Pole, splintered, sending some our way. Temperatures are going low; while they may temporarily rise on Monday and Tuesday, they will probably decline again later next week, predicts Mika Tosca, a climate scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who teaches at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Tosca does predict, however, that the cold weather will move east by Valentine’s Day — but temperatures will dip below zero in Chicago for the first time this winter before then.

In the meantime, stay safe. Area warming centers are open. Sign up for emergency alerts at notifychicago.org

Apartments must be kept 68 degrees from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and 66 degrees from 10:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. without exception; tenants can report landlords to the city by calling 3-1-1.

Keep a trickle of water running to keep pipes from freezing. If pipes freeze, use a hair dryer or heating pad, not an open flame, to thaw them. 

The Chicago Department of Public Health cautions residents to take care of themselves as well as neighbors, family members, pets and friends, particularly those who are elderly, have disabilities and/or live alone. Residents are advised to limit their time outside, wear layers of warm clothing when going outside and watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.

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