CHICAGO — Chicago Public Schools has canceled all after-school and after-care programs Thursday as the city prepares for a winter storm.
The district’s schools will still have students for regular classes as scheduled Thursday, but parents should plan for their kids to come home immediately afterward, CPS CEO Pedro Martinez said at a Wednesday news conference.
Students already had Friday off ahead of the holiday break. Martinez asked parents not to send their children to school Friday.
Experts have warned Chicagoans a potential blizzard could hit Thursday night into Friday morning, creating dangerously cold, windy and snowy weather that will upend people’s holiday travel plans. The city’s under a hazardous weather outlook and a winter storm watch from the National Weather Service during that time.
The snow is expected to start during the day Thursday and get heavier in the afternoon, said Kevin Doom, a National Weather Service meteorologist. Lighter snow could continue into the night, with more light snow possible Friday.
Doom said the National Weather Service is predicting 2-5 inches of snow falling on Chicago during that time. Rick DiMaio, an adjunct professor of aviation meteorology at Lewis University and professor of climate change at Loyola University, said he expects 6-8 inches of snow in the city.
But the experts’ main concern is the wind and extreme cold, which will kick off Thursday and stick around throughout the weekend.
There could be wind gusts up to 50 mph Thursday night into Friday, and the wind will stick around, Doom said. The snow is also expected to be drier, meaning it will be easily blown around, creating dangerous conditions for travelers.
A cold front will move in Thursday afternoon, sending temperatures plummeting in the span of just a few hours. It’s expected to be right around 32 degrees — the freezing temperature — before the cold front moves in around 2 or 3 p.m.
By 6 p.m., that could fall to an actual temperature of 10 degrees, but it’ll feel as cold as 10 below zero thanks to the windchill, Doom said.
And by daybreak Friday, it could feel as cold as 30 degrees below zero, Doom said.
AccuWeather meteorologist Tom Kines said people should take steps to protect themselves from frostbite, hypothermia and other cold-related medical issues.
“If you happen to, for whatever reason, be outside Friday, you definitely have to protect yourself from getting frostbite, hypothermia, anything related to the cold like that,” Kines said. “No. 1, stay indoors.
“If you have to be out, dress in layers. Wear a hat, a scarf, keep your body covered up. Don’t try going out there without gloves or mittens on or keeping your face unprotected, that kind of stuff. That leaves you susceptible to frostbite, and we don’t want that happening.”