“Which of Chicago’s Museums and Zoos will be Closed Due to the Extreme Cold?” by S.M. O’Connor

Due to the extremely cold temperatures forecast for Chicagoland and the greater Midwest, as well as the Great Plains states, later this week, The Field Museum of Natural History; the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum; the Chicago History Museum; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the National Museum of Mexican Art; the Lincoln Park Zoo; the Brookfield Zoo; and the Chicago Botanic Garden; will be closed one or two days this week.  According to Chicago Tribune staff reporters Morgan Greene and Mary Wisniewski, the temperature could plummet to -23°F on Tuesday night, rise to a daytime high temperature of -14°F on Wednesday, and then fall again to -25°F on Wednesday night.  [For context, the lowest temperature in the recorded history of Chicago was -27°F on Sunday, January 20, 1985.]  With the Wind Chill Factor, it will feel like -50°F and there will be gusts of wind of up to thirty miles per hour.  Oddly enough, according to CBS 2, on Wednesday, Chicago will be colder than part of Alaska within the Arctic Circle, as well as Canada; Siberia; the capital cities of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland; and Mount Everest, as well as Antarctica.

Update: The Art Institute of Chicago in Grant Park was closed on Wednesday.  On the Museum Campus in the Chicago Park District’s Burnham Park, The Field Museum will close early, at 2:00 p.m., tomorrow, Tuesday, January 29, 2019 and remain closed on Wednesday.  Update: At 3:48 p.m. on Wednesday, The Field Museum announced it would be closed on Thursday, as well. The Adler Planetarium will be closed Wednesday and Thursday.  Update: All three institutions on the Museum Campus will be closed Wednesday, as the Shedd Aquarium announced around 2:24 p.m. on Tuesday that it will be closed Wednesday.

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Streeterville, east of the Magnificent Mile of Michigan Avenue, will be closed Wednesday.  Up in the Chicago Park District’s Lincoln Park on the North Side of Chicago, the Lincoln Park Zoo will close early, at 3:00 p.m., on Tuesday, and it will remain closed all day on Wednesday.  This is for the protection of the animals and visitors alike.  [The staff will be on site to care for the animals.]   Many animals will be kept indoors.  Only those animals that in nature would be accustomed to dealing with such low temperatures, such as polar bears, will remain in outdoor enclosures.  This is only the second time the Lincoln Park Zoo has had to close due to severe winter weather, the other time being in 2011.  Twice, previously, it has had to close due to flooding.  The Chicago Historical Society will also be closing the Chicago History Museum at the southern end of Lincoln Park.  Update: The Chicago Academy of Science’s Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Lincoln Park was closed on Wednesday.

Update: The Newberry Library, an independent research library in the Washington Square Park Historic District in the Near North Side (Community Area #8), closed early, at 3:00 p.m., on Tuesday.  It will be closed on Wednesday.  The Reading Rooms, Exhibit Galleries, and Bookshop will be open from noon to 5:00 p.m. on Thursday.   The Reading Rooms and the Bookshop will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., while the Exhibit Galleries will be open from 8:15 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Friday.

The National Museum of Mexican Art in Harrison Park down in Pilsen on the South Side of Chicago will also be closed Wednesday.  Update: The Museum of Science and Industry in Jackson Park in the Community Area of Hyde Park on the South Side of Chicago announced around 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday that it would also be closed on Wednesday due to the polar vortex.

In west suburban Brookfield, Illinois, the Chicago Zoological Society will close the Brookfield Zoo on Wednesday and Thursday.  It will re-open on Friday, February 1, 2019.  Only a skeleton crew of staff members will be on hand to provide animal care and to maintain the facilities.  There are differing accounts in the press as to whether this is only the third or fourth time in the Brookfield Zoo’s eighty-five-year-long history that it has closed.

The Chicago Botanic Garden, which is operated by the Chicago Horticultural Society on Forest Preserve District of Cook County property adjacent to north suburban Glencoe, Illinois, will be closed on Wednesday.  Update: The Chicago Botanic Garden will be closed on Thursday, too.

Columbia College will close its campus at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday and plans to re-open at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, N.B.C. 5 reported.  However, that plan is subject to change.  No academic or business operations will take place during the closure.

Chicago Public Schools C.E.O. Janice Jackson stated there would be an announcement by noon on Tuesday about possible closures on Wednesday and Thursday.  If school is cancelled, parents can expect to receive e-mails and robocalls with the pertinent information.

At a press conference, Mayor Rahm Emanuel reminded Chicagoans to check on elderly neighbors.  “[P]lease check on them if they need anything.  If it’s beyond what you can do, [call] 311, or, if it’s more serious, 911.”

Rich Guidice, Executive Director of the City of Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications, stated that Chicago residents without heat or without shelter should call 311.  The Tribune journalists noted, “People should also call 311 to check on the well-being of others, report a water-main break or to request any other city services.”

Residences should have a daytime minimum temperature of 68°F and a nighttime minimum temperature of 66°F.  In the city, tenants whose apartments have inadequate heat or no heat should call their landlords and then call 311, City of Chicago Department of Buildings Commissioner Judy Frydland advised the Tribune.  A landlord who is not supplying heat can face fines of up to $500 per day, per violation.

Lisa Morrison Butler, Commissioner of the City of Chicago Department of Family and Support Services alerted city residents that six regional community centers will be warming centers from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.  The Garfield Community Service Center at 10 South Kedzie Avenue and the Dr. Martin Luther King Community Service Center at 4314 South Cottage Grove Avenue will be twenty-four-hour warming centers.  Furthermore, twenty-one centers that serve senior citizens function as warming centers during regular business hours.  Homeless people who cannot find shelter can warm up overnight on Chicago Transit Authority (C.T.A.) buses.

Metra plans to use a scaled-back train schedules on Wednesday, because fewer people should need its services to commute to work.  The schedule in effect on each Metra line will be available on its Website, https://metrarail.com.  Pace, which operates the public bus system in Chicago’s suburbs, announced buses would run on the usual schedule on Wednesday and Thursday, but riders should be forewarned there will be delays.

Illinois Department of Transportation (I.D.O.T.) minutemen will be out on patrol, as they are in snowstorms, but instead of looking for motorists who need to be freed from snowbanks, they will be on the lookout for motorists with blown tires or failed hydraulic systems.  In the same vein, the Illinois Tollway Authority will have zero weather road patrol vehicles on the tollways Monday night through Thursday.

Federal courthouses in Chicago and Rockford will be closed Wednesday. In the western suburbs and exurbs of DuPage and McHenry Counties, many governmental offices will be closed.  McHenry County will keep all of its offices closed on Wednesday.  The County of DuPage will close all of its Public Health Department facilities.

Another group of Tribune journalists reported that PricewaterhouseCoopers Chicago advised employees in an e-mail over the weekend that this workweek they should work from home, if they can.  High-tech companies Relativity and ParkWhiz are also encouraging employees to work from home on Wednesday.  Many restaurants in Chicago will remain open, but with fewer staff members on hand.  Construction work could come to a halt, even at major worksites.  Grocery stores, including Jewel-Osco, Mariano’s, and Pete’s Market, intend to stay open on Wednesday.  Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Sears, and K-Mart also intend to remain open, but Wal-Mart is advising customers to check the Facebook pages of individual stores for up-to-date information on that store’s status and for the same reason Walgreens is advising customers to check the store locator function on the company’s Website.

Meteorologists anticipate that on Wednesday, Chicago will have a Wind Chill Factor of -50°F; Milwaukee, Wisconsin will have a temperature of -28°F with a Wind Chill Factor of -50°F; and in Minnesota temperatures could drop to -50°F with a Wind Chill Factor of -60°F, according to C.B.S. News.  The National Weather Service indicated that temperatures will be twenty degrees below normal across the Upper Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi River Valley regions.  The states and regions of states that encompass the Upper Midwest Basically, the whole interior of our federation, from North Dakota to Missouri, and parts of Ohio, will be facing extremely cold temperatures.

Snowfall and high winds on Monday forced the cancelation of over 1,080 flights at Chicago’s airports and all non-essential government offices for the State of Michigan, including the Capitol building, the Tribune and C.B.S. News reported.  More than a foot of snow was expected to fall in Wisconsin and Minnesota on Monday.

USA Today reported a slightly worse forecast for Illinoisans, with a possible Wind Chill Factor in Northern Illinois of -55°F.  In Minnesota, the parade that would have been held on Thursday to kick off the St. Paul Winter Festival had to be called off.  One-to-two inches of snow may even fall in Atlanta, Georgia, which is ill-prepared for it any year, but could cause complications when the city is expecting an influx of tourists as the N.F.L. is due to stage Super Bowl LIII there in a few days.

In another article, USA Today reported that when the polar vortex reaches North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota, on Tuesday night, temperatures may drop to -30°F.  On Wednesday, the high temperatures from Fargo to Chicago may not rise above -10°F.  Northern Indiana may see a record-low Wind Chill Factor of -50°F.  Meanwhile, people as far apart as Kansas City, Missouri; Cincinnati, Ohio; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; New York City; Philadelphia; and Washington, D.C. may also experience cold temperatures in the comparatively warmer single digits.

One could become a victim of frostbite within a matter of minutes in these frigid conditions.  Do not leave your home unless you absolutely must.  If you do have to go outside in these severely cold conditions, bundle up, wearing layers of clothing.  Wear a real coat, not a jacket (unless it is under your coat); wear a hat, gloves, a scarf, and maybe a ski mask; and wear thermal underwear (over your regular underwear and under your outer garments).  Wear boots to protect your feet and ankles – sensible snow boots, not boots with heels.  Carry hand warmers in your gloved hands and in your pockets when you cannot carry them.  Keep speaking outdoors to a minimum.  Carry emergency supplies in your car if you are driving.  If you normally take public transportation and must go out, take a taxicab (or Uber or Lyft).

girl standing in front of polar bear
Photo by u202aDima Visozkiu202cu200f on Pexels.com
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