The frigid temperatures of the past two days have been compounded by dangerous wind chills.
A National Weather Service wind chill advisory was issued Thursday morning, with wind chill values making it seem as if temperatures were between 15 and 25 below zero. Temperatures that low can cause frostbite in less than 30 minutes.
The weather prompted the closing of all schools in Aurora Unit District 131, where many of the children walk to school. The Emergency Closing Center indicates which schools have announced closings.
The wind chill advisory ended, but the bitter cold weather will continue into Friday and the weekend, when meteorologists predict snow.
Friday's predicted high is 21 degrees with light snow beginning to accumulate in the early morning hours. Heavier snowfall will most likely start in the afternoon, with up to 3 inches of accumulation possible in the evening, according to the National Weather Service.
Road conditions Saturday could deteriorate; meteorologists predict a chance of snow and sleet in the morning and snowfall continuing in the afternoon. Wind gusts could reach 20 mph with a high of 29 degrees.
A sunny day is predicted for Sunday, but the high temperature might not rise above zero. The nighttime low could dip to 12 below.
Here's a look at how suburbanites were dealing Thursday with the extreme lows:
Engines running, phones charging
It was so cold inside the Kane County Judicial Center in St. Charles that some people went outside to warm up.
Yes, you read that right.
The judicial center, already plagued by cold temperatures on some floors throughout the year, was colder than usual as a line of people formed outside in the morning waiting to get through security.
With the front doors open, the arctic air permeated the building, and some county employees could be observed at lunch hour in their vehicles with engines running and phones charging.
Arctic temperatures don't deter residents from disposing of their unwanted electronics.
"People still have to get up, go out and go to work, and they want to drop off their TV on the way," said Jennifer Jarland, Kane County's recycling program coordinator. The cold, she said, "has never really affected attendance. It's all kind of business as usual."
In turn, the employees stationed at daily drop-off sites in South Elgin, West Dundee and Batavia stay in heated office boxes when they're not helping visitors unload materials, Jarland said. The county even bought a large generator to heat the office box at the Batavia site, which is in the middle of a field and wouldn't otherwise get power.
No need to brave the wind and ice for Lexus shoppers in Naperville.
Dealership employees teamed up to fetch cars for test drivers, bring them inside a sheltered garage and warm them up, saving the customer the chill and hazard, salesman Andy Farraher said.
"We certainly make sure that all the cars are running every day to make sure the cars stay warm in the cold," he said.
When customers stepped into their warmed-up rides, they'd head over to the nearby Naperville Test Track, an unusual closed course that lets customers experience multiple driving scenarios.
"We're lucky that it's well-maintained," Farraher said about the track. "Even in the snow."
A higher purpose trumped the weather for Fremont Township residents Nancy and Mark Wunderlich, who carried about 50 gifts, including three bicycles, for their adopted Christmas family.
The annual gift giving is through their church, North Shore Unitarian in Deerfield.
"It feels good and we're glad we can do it," Nancy said.
Police open doors
Gurnee police are offering their building at 100 N. O'Plaine Road at Washington Street as a warming center during the cold snap. It'll be open 24 hours a day.
Water main breaks
The severe cold is responsible for two breaks to the water main that runs under Route 14 in Barrington. The first one happened about 8 a.m. near Route 14 and Lake Zurich Road; the second occurred about noon by the public safety facility.
To isolate the broken section, crews had to break through about 15 inches of concrete on Route 14, public works director Mark Werksman said.
It was a particularly bad time for the breaks to happen because the department is preparing for the snow that is expected to fall Friday into Saturday. "We're scramblin' right now," he said.
They'll come to you
Mundelein's In and Out BBQ chose the frigid day to launch a delivery service for people not brave enough to go outdoors for ribs, brisket or pulled pork sandwiches.
"We'll deliver it right to your doorstep," owner Quinton Beale said on the take-out-only restaurant's Facebook page.
In and Out even added a special dish in honor of the arctic temperatures: Chili, with a side of cornbread.
DuPage County Forest Preserve officials are taking steps to ensure the animals under their care stay safe during the brutal cold.
Forest preserve spokeswoman Audra Bonnet said horses at Danada Equestrian Center in Wheaton are moved to a barn during severe weather conditions. When needed, they're given blankets.
Even Danada's barn cats will be kept indoors during the cold snap.
Meanwhile, staff members and volunteers are making sure the farm animals at Kline Creek Farm in West Chicago have everything they need. Special attention also is being provided to rescued animals in the enclosures at Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn.
Icing on the cake
The cold weather is coming just in time for the opening of two lighted ice rinks at the Wheaton Park District's Central Athletic Complex at 500 S. Naperville Road.
The rinks will be used for hockey and open skate and are scheduled to open in the third or fourth week of December.
No rentals or concessions are on site, but warming shelters and restrooms will be accessible from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Fridays, 1 to 9:30 p.m. Saturdays and 1 to 6 p.m. Sundays.