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Fox Valley shivers under biting cold

Gary Younger LaGrange puts face mask protect himself from bitter cold AurorMonday Jan. 6 2014.  | Mike Mantucc/ For

Gary Younger, of LaGrange, puts on a face mask to protect himself from the bitter cold in Aurora on Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. | Mike Mantucca / For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 8, 2014 6:11AM



The Aurora area is still dealing with some bitterly cold weather, but things should begin to warm up slowly.

On Monday, the thermometer dipped down to 16 below zero in Aurora, breaking a record set in 1988, and wind chills dropped to minus 40.

Even colder, unofficial temperatures were spread across the Fox Valley, with some backyard thermometers registering as low as minus 21, according to residents.

A little bit of a letup was expected Tuesday. A National Weather Service Wind Chill Warning is set to expire at noon Tuesday.

Government officials across the Fox Valley warned residents to stay indoors and to take all precautions if they had to go outside.

If that wasn’t bad enough, a major power outage due to the weather hit the city, with more than 24,000 homes and businesses impacted, mostly on Aurora’s Far East Side. Many of the customers were without power for hours. Power was restored to the final 300 homes a little before 5:30 p.m.

In addition, a water main broke on the city’s West Side Monday, city officials said.

Aurora crews tackled the water main break in the 1700 block of Roanoke Avenue. It’s the first break the city has had to address since Thursday, said city spokesman Dan Ferrelli.

The city has recorded 22 water main breaks since the Thanksgiving weekend, according to Aurora Director of Communications Clayton Muhammad. Air and water temperature are main factors in why water mains break with greater frequency in the winter months, he said.

Road conditions also were still not the best in some places in the area, especially out in the rural sections of Kane County.

Lt. Pat Gengler with the Kane County Sheriff’s Department said that driving after the sun went down Monday was especially difficult in some areas, such as Route 47 north of Route 64, where there was still drifting snow.

There was also some difficult driving in more urban areas.

By 7:30 a.m. Monday, Aurora crews had plowed all primary and residential streets on all 34 snow routes from curb to curb. But because of extreme cold and wind, many streets throughout the city remained snow covered as of Monday night, Ferrelli said.

City crews will continue to work around the clock to keep the streets as clear as possible, but with bitter cold temperatures, road salt is ineffective. Road salt will not be used until the temperatures reach double digits again, Ferrelli said.

“We urge motorists to use extreme caution and slow down,” he said.

According to AAA Illinois spokeswoman Beth Mosher, local tow truck drivers were very busy.

“We are seeing about 650 calls per hour for Illinois and northern Indiana,” Mosher said Monday morning.

That doesn’t include calls directly to the tow companies.

The chances of a driver getting stuck out in the rural area were pretty high, Gengler said.

While the main roads might be clear, “you might get to the township road that hasn’t been plowed since last night. It is too late — you are already in the drift,” Gengler said.

Many schools closed

Most school districts throughout the area canceled school on Monday, and Tuesday as well, since the weather was still going to be very cold, although a litter warmer than Monday. All Aurora University classes were canceled Tuesday, including those on the Aurora and GWC campuses, at the Woodstock Center and at off-campus locations.

SciTech Hands-On Museum will be closed Tuesday and will not hold preschool classes as well.

Despite the intense cold, there were no reported issues at buildings in East Aurora, West Aurora and Oswego 308 school districts.

Due to the severe temperatures and inclement conditions, there was no garbage/recycling collection in Aurora on Monday. Because of that service will be delayed by one day this week, and collections will take place the day following regularly scheduled collections, officials said.

Also, due to the weather, the city of Aurora’s contracted refuse collector, Republic Services, is postponing live holiday tree collection until next week. Trees will be collected for recycling starting Monday, Jan. 13, on residents’ regular collection day.

Trees must be placed at the curb and be free of plastic bags, decorations and tree stands. Wreaths and garland will not be collected for recycling and must be stickered as garbage.

The city of Aurora also has multiple warming centers for anyone who needs shelter during the extreme weather, including a 24-hour warming center at the Aurora Transportation Center, 233 N. Broadway, to provide shelter to residents during the cold spell. Aurora Township is working with the City of Aurora to provide shuttle bus transportation to and from warming centers for those who need it.

Run on groceries

Local residents made mad dashes to grocery stores in the last few days, stocking up on essentials before Monday’s cold weather hit.

“The microwave food section looked post-Apocolyptic,” said Yorkville resident Christina Diamond, who went shopping in McHenry on Sunday.

Heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures kept the Meijer store’s delivery from arriving on time, and Diamond said the impact was grave.

“The butcher there said the only thing they had left was frozen chicken. There was no real fresh meats. Luckily, we got the last package of ground sirloin,” she said.



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