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Southland bracing for the deep freeze

Megan McClell9 walks her sled back top hill Bettenhausen RecreatiCenter Tinley Park. Following snows thblanketed Southlareis bracing for sub-zero temperatures.

Megan McClelland, 9, walks her sled back to the top of the hill at Bettenhausen Recreation Center in Tinley Park. Following snows that blanketed the Southland, the area is bracing for sub-zero temperatures. | Donna Vickroy~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 6, 2014 6:33AM



While Southland communities braced for temperatures that will plunge to well below zero Sunday night, some school district officials say the anticipated brutal weather might extend the holiday break for students.

And suburbs were reminding residents that warming shelters will be available, as the National Weather Service said the stretch of subzero temperatures could be the longest in almost 17 years.

With most Southland students scheduled to return to class Monday after the winter break, some districts are considering delaying their return in light of the extremely cold weather.

Tracy Marc, a spokeswoman for Orland District 135, said administrators conferred Friday with their counterparts at other districts and expect to decide by Sunday evening whether to cancel classes for Monday. Along with a message at the district’s website, parents would be notified be phone and email, she said.

Community Consolidated District 146 in Tinley Park said it would decide Sunday about whether to hold classes Monday, while Lori DeVos, spokeswoman for Bremen High School District 228, said her district also expected to decide Sunday.

At Consolidated High School District 230, students aren’t due to resume classes until Tuesday — Monday is a district institute day — but administrators will monitor the weather and decide whether school would be held Tuesday, Carla Erdey, a district spokeswoman, said.

The National Weather Service said temperatures could approach 20 below zero early Monday, with wind chills making it feel twice as cold. The high Monday is expected to be about 9 below, while there’s a chance of reaching 2 above on Tuesday.

The expected period of below-zero temperatures could be the longest since February 1996, when the mercury stayed in negative territory for 66 hours, the weather service said. The Chicago area’s longest span of below-zero readings was 98 hours in December 1983.

With the plunging temperatures, communities will increase efforts to alert residents about available places to keep warm.

Chicago Heights will inform all residents by phone Monday of the location of the city’s four warming centers. Orland Park’s police station is that village’s primary warming center, but “we have other village buildings that we can open and make accessible if they’re needed,” Mayor Dan McLaughlin said.

Patrick Carr, Tinley Park’s emergency services director, said the village’s senior citizen center and police station serve as warming centers, and residents who need to use the centers should call (708) 532-9111. He said the fire department also plans to staff extra crews to respond to weather-related calls.

While subzero temperatures can be dangerous for people, they can also wreak havoc on our vehicles.

“The old tried and true tips are the best” in keeping cars running in extreme cold, Rocky Lattore, service director for Bettenhausen Automotive’s Dodge-Ram and Chrysler-Jeep dealerships, said.

That includes making sure the battery is in good shape and keeping the gas tank close to full so the fuel line doesn’t freeze, he said. Also, if you can’t keep your vehicle in the garage, make sure you start it every six or eight hours to keep the battery charged and allow time for transmission and power steering fluid to warm up before driving, Lattore said.



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