Forecasters: Winter season could be among top 3 coldest - FOX 32 News Chicago

Forecasters: Winter season could be among top 3 coldest

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Wednesday's wind chill advisory is over, but another will go into effect at midnight through noon Thursday, according to the National Weather Service as Chicago endures one its coldest winter seasons ever.

The high Wednesday afternoon is expected to reach 13 degrees, according to the weather service, and winds could gust as high as 35 mph. Thursday will be even colder, with the high temperature hovering around 5 degrees.

The wind chill could dip as low as 20 to 30 degrees below zero on Thursday, according to the weather service.

Residents should bundle up, and wear a hat and gloves outdoors, as frostbite and hypothermia could occur quickly in weather this cold, according to the weather service.

High temperatures might not break 20 degrees until Friday, which also brings a slight chance of snow. Snow will be possible through the weekend, according to the weather service.

February's bitterly cold finale will likely be enough to rank this winter as Chicago's third coldest since record-keeping began more than 140 years ago, forecasters said Tuesday.

So far, this winter season's average temperature of 19.1 degrees places it as the fifth-coldest since records began in 1871, the National Weather Service said.

But the frigid end to the week will likely push the average temperature to at least 19 degrees, which would bump it into the top three coldest on record, the weather service said.

Forecasters define meteorological winter as December through February, and use the average temperatures at O'Hare Airport to determine rankings.

The Illinois Tollway announced round-the-clock Zero Weather Road Patrols began Wednesday morning to help drivers stranded in disabled vehicles.

"We urge our customers to stay with their vehicles if they become stranded and not risk their safety by trying to walk for help themselves," Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur said in a release. "They should dial *999 and wait for assistance to arrive."

Motorists should make sure their cell phones are fully charged before heading out, and keep a cold weather safety kit, including blankets, gloves, water, batteries and non-perishable food, the tollway recommends. Drivers should also make sure their fuel tanks are at least half full to avoid gas lines freezing, and check tire pressure.

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