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Illinois grapples with first day of artic temps

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 5, 2014 at 7:39 pm •  Published: January 5, 2014

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois residents braced Sunday for a double whammy of heavy snow and bitterly cold temperatures, with authorities warning people to stay indoors and off the roads.

Almost a foot of snow fell in the Chicago area by Sunday evening, while the St. Louis area had about a foot and northern Indiana had at least 8 inches. Central Illinois was bracing for 8 to 10 inches, and southern Michigan could see up to 15 inches.

Brisk winds caused whiteout conditions in some areas, and drifting snow forced the closure of some roadways in central Illinois.

The danger won't end Monday, with temperatures expected to plummet to minus 15 degrees overnight Sunday and hover there during the day. Wind chills of 30 to 50 degrees below zero were possible Monday, National Weather Service meteorologist Ed Fenelon said.

"Everyday activities may not be feasible," Gary Schenkel, executive director of Chicago's Emergency Management Communication, warned Sunday. "If you can stay indoors, please do so."

Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider was urging motorists to stay home and off the roads. She said those who must travel should let family members know their plans in case of emergencies.

Many of the state's schools and colleges canceled Monday classes. Late in the day Sunday — and after weathering criticism from the Chicago Teachers Union — officials in the nation's third-largest school district said it would be closed.

Chicago Public School officials say they made the decision after they "evaluated the situation again." Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said closing is "in the best interest of our students."

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