The Latest: 1,700 flights canceled at Chicago airports

CHICAGO (AP) — The Latest on a major snowstorm and frigid weather in the Midwest (all times local):

9:10 a.m.

About 1,700 flights in and out of Chicago’s airports have been canceled in the last 24 hours amid the frigid weather in the Midwest , with experts saying the cold is affecting transit operations.

The temperature Thursday morning at O’Hare International Airport was negative 20 degrees (negative 29 Celsius). About 1,450 flights were canceled at O’Hare, one of the nation’s busiest airports.

Midway International Airport had about 250 cancellations. Both airports were reporting delays of about 15 minutes.

Airline experts say the double-digit subzero temperatures affect manpower, equipment and fueling at airports. United Airlines has brought in heated tents for its employees at O’Hare and added workers to increase shifts.

The low temperatures also affected rail service in Chicago, the nation’s third-largest city. Some commuter lines are shutting down or altering schedules amid the cold.


8:15 a.m.

Officials are warning Michigan residents that they risk brief interruptions of natural gas service for heat amid bitterly cold weather if they don’t help reduce energy.

The warning comes after a fire at a utility’s suburban Detroit facility that affected natural gas supplies.

Consumers Energy’s CEO Patti Poppe made an appeal Wednesday night for customers to reduce their natural gas usage. She later told The Detroit News that “localized planned curtailments: for some homes and business if demand isn’t reduced.

An emergency alert was sent late Wednesday to cellphones asking people to lower thermostats to 65 degrees (18 Celsius) or below through Friday.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer asked everyone to “to do your part.”


8 a.m.

A good Samaritan offered to pay for hotel rooms for 70 homeless people in Chicago who were camped out in tents amid the bitter cold that blanketed Chicago.

The offer came after the Chicago Fire Department on Wednesday confiscated nearly 100 propane tanks given the group to keep them warm as temperatures sank to negative 22 (negative 20 Celsius). The department acted after one of the donated tanks exploded.

Salvation Army spokeswoman Jacqueline Rachev said city officials told the organization about their actions at the camp. The Salvation Army was about to move the people to a warming center when the city called again and informed them of the gesture.

Rachev was not sure of the identity of the good Samaritan and only knew the hotel was on the city’s South Side.


7:30 a.m.

Temperature records have been broken in northern Illinois amid the arctic deep freeze enveloping the Midwest.

The National Weather Service says the temperature Thursday morning in Rockford hit a record-breaking negative 30 degrees (negative 34 Celsius).

The previous record of negative 27 degrees (negative 33 Celsius) was set on Jan. 10, 1982. The city’s records date back to 1905. Rockford is about 80 miles (129 kilometers) northwest of Chicago.

Meteorologists say warmer weather is on the way for the weekend.


7:20 a.m.

Another day of dangerously cold weather in the Midwest is closing hundreds of schools, businesses and government offices in Wisconsin and Minnesota, but students are heading back to school in the Dakotas.

Two of Wisconsin’s largest school districts canceled classes again Thursday, when morning temperatures hovered around negative 20 degrees (negative 29 Celsius). In Minnesota, where wind chill readings could reach negative 55 degrees (negative 48 Celsius), several large school districts also called off classes.

The extreme cold has also sent dozens of people to hospitals in Minnesota. Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis says it has treated 22 patients for frostbite since Friday, including 13 admitted to the hospital.

But in North Dakota, students in Fargo and other nearby cities are heading back to school. Temperatures in the region dropped to minus 25 degrees (minus 31 Celsius) Thursday morning but forecasters are predicting a high of minus 2 degrees (minus 16 Celsius).

It’s a bit warmer in South Dakota, where the National Weather Service says the high temperature in Sioux Falls on Thursday is expected to be 12 degrees (minus 11 Celsius).


12 a.m.

The painfully cold weather system that put much of the Midwest into a historic deep freeze is expected to ease Thursday, though temperatures could still tumble to record lows in some places before the region begins to thaw out.

Disruptions caused by the cold will persist, too, including power outages and canceled flights and trains.

Before the worst of the cold begins to lift, the National Weather Service says Chicago could hit lows early Thursday that break the city’s record of minus 27 set on Jan. 20, 1985.

Temperatures should bounce back into the single digits later Thursday and into the comparative balmy 20s by Friday. More people are expected to return to work in Chicago, which resembled a ghost town Wednesday after most offices told employees to stay home.