News Release
City Services

January 2, 2014

City Continues To Plow Streets Aa Snow Continues To Accumulate And Bitter Cold Temperatures Expected

Officials Urge Chicagoans to Drive Slowly and According to Conditions and Utilize City Services if Needed

OEMC Media Affairs    312.746.9454

Molly Poppe | Dept. Streets and Sanitation or 312.339.5524

As winter weather moves across Chicago bringing substantial snow fall and cold temperatures, the Office of Emergency Management and Communication, Department of Streets and Sanitation and other City departments and sister agencies are responding to the snow storm, preparing for extreme cold and urging residents to take precautions and  utilize City services if needed.

The City of Chicago works with the National Weather Service to monitor the weather on an on- going basis to prepare for extreme weather, and continues to implement, coordinate and improve plans to adapt to changing conditions to keep residents safe during the winter season. Chicago has been under a Winter Weather Advisory since Tuesday afternoon, which has brought approximately 6.9 inches of snow at Midway airport.  Current predictions from the City’s weather service anticipate lake effect snow causing significant snow accumulation throughout Thursday afternoon.

 The Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS) has been salting and plowing Chicago streets with the full fleet of 287 snow removal vehicles since winter weather entered the Chicago area Tuesday.  DSS deployed today an additional 26 smaller four-wheel drive vehicles for narrow side streets and 60 quick hitch snow plows attached to garbage trucks for a total of 373 snow removal vehicles removing snow citywide.  The quick hitch snow plows are used in tandem with salt spreaders to clear main and arterial streets quickly during heavy snowfall.

“373 Streets and Sanitation snow removal assets have been actively salting and plowing City main streets ensuring motorists and emergency vehicles have access to safe and passable streets.  We will continue to monitor conditions through access to over 1,500 cameras and roadway censors at Snow Command and will deploy additional resources as needed,” said Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Charles L. Williams.

During every citywide snow removal program, Streets and Sanitation snow plows and salt spreaders focus on ensuring Lake Shore Drive and arterial streets are safe and passable.  Once snow fall ends and arterial streets are clear, vehicles are redeployed to side and residential streets.  This snow removal process is essential for keeping Chicago moving and streets safe.

“Whether ice, snow or rain, we ask motorists and pedestrians to keep informed of weather updates and road conditions as they travel to and from home, work and recreational activities over the next week," said OEMC Executive Director Gary W. Schenkel.

OEMC urges residents to prepare for extremely cold temperatures and snowy conditions by taking steps, such as preparing emergency kits for residences and vehicles and stocking up on necessities, which will help in emergency situations or if weather conditions become dangerous.

The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) has snow operations programs running around the clock at both airports to keep runways, taxiways and airport roadways and sidewalks clear from snow and ice. The CDA is currently utilizing more than 300 pieces of snow equipment and 6 snow melters at O’Hare; and approximately 85 pieces of equipment and 1 snow melter at Midway.

Due to low visibility, snow and deicing of aircraft, airlines at O’Hare and Midway International Airports are reporting delays and cancellations today.

At O’Hare, airlines are reporting delays averaging 45 minutes for all flights in and out of the airport. Airlines have proactively canceled approximately 300 flights today.

At Midway, airlines are reporting delays averaging 15 minutes for most flights in and out of the airport, with some flights delayed more than one hour. Less than 10 cancellations have been reported at Midway.

Travelers are advised to check their airline’s website to confirm the status of their flight before heading to the airport.

The Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) operates six Community Service Centers located throughout the city that double as warming centers on weekdays during the winter months when temperatures fall below 32 degrees. These Community Service Centers are open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on work weekdays.  One of these facilities, the Garfield Community Service Center at 10 South Kedzie, is open on a 24-hour basis to connect residents to emergency shelter. Please note that the North Area Community Service Center, which houses a warming center, recently moved and is now located at 845 W. Wilson Avenue.  DFSS will deploy additional mobile outreach crews and extend Community Service Centers and Regional Senior Centers hours Sunday through Tuesday when temperatures will be dangerously low.

On evenings, weekends or holidays, City-operated facilities, including libraries, park facilities and police stations might also serve as warming centers if they are needed.  And during the weekdays, DFSS also operates the City’s six Regional Senior Centers and 15 Satellite Senior Centers where seniors can go to keep warm in addition to taking part in numerous activities. DFSS will deploy additional mobile outreach crews and extend Community Service Centers and Regional Senior Center hours this Sunday through Tuesday when temperatures will be dangerously low.

The best thing to do if you are seeking a warm place to go after hours is to call 3-1-1. Seniors or individuals with limited mobility may call 3-1-1 to request a ride to any of the centers. And individuals requiring emergency overnight shelter should also call 3-1-1.Warming center information is posted on DFSS's website and Facebook pages at and

The Chicago Department of Public Health reminds residents to take extra precautions to stay warm and avoid hypothermia and frostbite.  Avoid unnecessary trips outside.  When you do go outside, wear several loose fitting layers of warm clothing.  When shoveling snow, work slowly and take frequent breaks to avoid exhaustion. Be sure to winterize your home and vehicles, and keep cell phones charged with extra batteries for emergencies. It’s especially important for all of us to look out for each other. Please continue to check regularly on the well-being of friends, relatives and neighbors who live alone, who are elderly or have a disability.

The Chicago Heat Ordinance mandates that landlords supply heat to rental units during cold weather months.  From September 15 to June 1, the temperature inside a rental residence must be at least 68 degrees during the day.  During the evening, the temperatures must be at least 66 degrees.  The Department of Buildings encourages residents to first contact their landlords when these temperatures are not maintained and to call 3-1-1 if no action is being taken.  During extreme cold weather, however, the Building Department’s first priority is responding to heat complaints and it reassigns inspectors to handle the increased number of heat complaints.

Due to the weather, Chicago’s bike-sharing program, Divvy, will temporarily close at noon today. No bikes can be rented after the temporary closure has begun, though any bikes in use at the time can be returned to any Divvy station with an available dock.Members will also be informed of closure and re-opening via email, and any questions about whether the system is open or closed can be answered with by a service representative at 1-855-55-DIVVY (553-4889).

Officials remind residents to be cognizant of weather conditions, heed the warnings given by experts, know the implications of wind chill advisories, winter storm watches and warnings. Residents should know the signs and care of frostbite and hypothermia.  Officials advise residents to winterize their homes and vehicles, and keep cell phones charged with extra batteries for emergencies.  Additional winter preparation information is available at, including links to other local, state and federal resources.

Residents can visit to track snow removal efforts through Plow Tracker and sign up to volunteer with the Snow Corp program, which helps to pair volunteers with senior residents or people with disabilities who require assistance to shovel their sidewalks