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Disaster Declared In Illinois Ahead Of Winter Storm Landon. Here’s How To Stay Safe

Parts of Illinois could see 18 inches of snow over the next few days, Gov. JB Pritzker warned. Here's how you can stay safe at home, keep your pets warm and find a warming shelter.

More than a foot of snow fell on Logan Square on Feb. 15 and 16, 2021.
Kelly Bauer/Block Club Chicago

CHICAGO — Gov. JB Pritzker has issued a disaster declaration for Illinois as Winter Storm Landon nears.

The storm is expected to dump more than 10 inches of snow on parts of Chicago over the next two days, with the South Side getting hit worse. Other parts of Illinois could get 18 inches, Pritzker warned during a Tuesday news conference.

The city will also see potentially dangerous cold over the next few days. Temperatures will fall to the 20s and stay there Wednesday through the weekend.

The first storm is expected to start around 8 or 9 p.m. Tuesday and last overnight, with up to 1 inch of snow per hour falling, said Lee Carlaw, National Weather Service meteorologist. The heaviest of the snowfall is expected to end 3-4 a.m. Wednesday, with lighter snow possible into the afternoon.

By then, the city could be seeing a noticeably large difference in snowfall totals. The South Side “stands the best chance of getting some significant” snow with the first storm, with more than 8 inches possibly falling, Carlaw said.

The North Side is expected to see 4-5 inches, or even less, Carlaw said.

The second storm could largely miss the city as it’s expected to stay mostly south of the Kankakee River Valley, Carlaw said.

“That’ll be taking the vast majority of the heavier snowfall with it,” he said.

That wave could see lake-effect snow, though, with the North Side and Downtown area getting 1-3 more inches of snow Wednesday night into Thursday morning, Carlaw said.

Overall, the South Side could see 10 inches or more of snow, while the North Side might get 5-8 inches after both storms, Carlaw said.

“Keep updated with the forecast,” Carlaw said. “Very small shifts in this first wave can make noticeable differences in who gets the heavier snowfall totals, so that’ll be important, to stay up to date with the latest forecast.”

Here’s how you can keep safe:

Staying Home

  • Never use your oven for heat, and don’t bring charcoal or gas grills indoors, according to a Cook County news release.
  • Make sure portable heaters are not plugged in when they’re not being used, and use space heaters with “extreme caution,” according to Cook County. They should not be placed near flammable materials and should be turned off before you go to bed.
  • Keep heat at “adequate levels,” or let your faucets drip to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting, according to Cook County.
  • Keep moving so your body can generate its own heat, according to Cook County.

Going Out

  • Wear multiple layers, including a hat and gloves or mittens, according to Cook County.
  • If your skin has been exposed to the cold, carefully warm it with a warm, wet washcloth, and see a doctor if your skin is cold, hard or blotchy or if the exposed skin becomes painful, swollen or you get a fever, according to Cook County.
  • Frostbite symptoms start as a pins and needles or tingly feeling; your skin may change color, becoming red, white, blue, purple or grayish depending on the severity, according to Cook County.
  • Older people or those who are normally inactive should be cautious when they go to shovel snow, according to Cook County.
  • Watch for signs of hypothermia, like intense shivering, slurred speech, drowsiness and loss of coordination, according to Cook County. Seek medical care if you are in need.


  • Drive “drastically” slower than normal, especially when nearing intersections, ramps, bridges and areas where ice might have formed, according to the Governor’s Office.
  • People should plan for trips to take longer than usual, according to Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications.
  • Watch for emergency vehicles and snow plows.
  • Make sure your gas tank is full, according to the Governor’s Office.
  • Have a cellphone, warm clothes, blankets, food, water, a first-aid kit, washer fluid and an ice scraper in your car in case of emergency. You can call *999 in the Chicago area if you are in an emergency, according to the Governor’s Office.
  • Tell someone where you are going and what your route will be if you must drive.
  • If your car breaks down or you are in a crash, remain inside your car, according to the Governor’s Office.
  • Keep emergency items in your car and not in the trunk in case the trunk jams or freezes, according to Cook County.

Warming Centers

Chicago’s warming areas are open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday when temperatures are at 32 degrees or below. Residents can call 311 for information about warming centers and for assistance in finding a warm space after-hours.

  • Englewood Community Service Center, 1140 W. 79th St. Call 312-747-0200.
  • Garfield Community Service Center, 10 S. Kedzie Ave. Call 312-746-5400. (Open 24/7.)
  • King Community Service Center, 4314 S. Cottage Grove Ave. Call 312-747-2300.
  • North Area Community Service Center, 845 W. Wilson Ave. Call 312-744-2580.
  • South Chicago Community Service Center, 8650 S. Commercial Ave. Call 312-747-0500.
  • Trina Davila Community Service Center, 4312 W. North Ave. Call 312-744-2014.

Click here for more information on Chicago’s warming areas.

There are also warming areas in suburban Cook County. Click here for information on those centers.

Pets And Animals

  • Bring pets indoors in a heated space, according to Cook County. An outdoor dog house might not be adequate during extended periods of cold.
  • Salt and ice can irritate a pet’s footpads; foot coverings are recommended for pets in need, according to Cook County. If your pet won’t wear foot coverings, avoid salt when outside and wash their paws with warm water once home.
  • Limit pets’ outdoor times: Walks should not last longer than 10 minutes in below-zero weather, and you should check their foot pads once home and wash them with warm, but not hot, towels, according to Cook County. Call your veterinarian if you think your pet has frostbite anywhere, including their nose and ears.
  • Keep antifreeze away from pets.
  • Have an emergency kit that includes supplies for your pet, like food, water and medication, according to Cook County.
  • Honk before you start your car in case a wild animal has gone into your engine or another place for warmth, according to Cook County.
  • Call officials if a wild animal is in your home.

Emergency Supply Kits

Here’s what you should have in an emergency kit in your car, according to Cook County:

  • Shovel.
  • Windshield scraper and small broom.
  • Flashlight with extra batteries. You can reverse the batteries to avoid switching the flashlight on when it’s not in use.
  • Battery-powered radio.
  • Water.
  • Snack food, including energy bars.
  • Matches and small candles.
  • Extra hats, socks and mittens.
  • First-aid kit with a pocketknife.
  • Necessary Medications.
  • Blankets or a sleeping bag.
  • Tow chain or rope.
  • Road salt, sand or cat litter for traction.
  • Jumper cables.
  • Emergency flares and reflectors.
  • Fluorescent distress flag and whistle to get attention.
  • Cellphone adapter to plug into lighter.

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