Illinois activates emergency preparedness plan in response to polar vortex

Prepare Now for Winter Weather

The threat of potential life-threatening, record breaking wind chills has prompted the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) to begin coordinating with other state agencies on response capabilities if assistance were to become necessary. 

WGN News has compiled a list of school closings that can be found by clicking here.

To find a warming center near you click here.

It is important to check in with your neighbors. Please direct any seniors that you know may need help to the Senior HelpLine 1800-252-8966.

Metra and PACE have warned of delays:

Click Here to see the latest delays and current Metra Schedule

Due to the extreme cold weather forecast for the Chicago region this week, Metra will operate a modified schedule on Wednesday, Jan. 30. Modified schedules for each Metra line can be found here. 

All ADA Paratransit Subscription Trips for Tuesday, January 29 through Thursday, January 31 have been cancelled. Service delays and destination closures caused by hazardous weather conditions are expected.

Pace and Metra warn that if you still wish to travel, please confirm that the destination you are traveling to is open and then call to make a reservation the day before your trip.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is encouraging all Illinoisans to prepare today for another blast of winter weather.  The National Weather Service is forecasting accumulating snow for northern and central Illinois, followed by a blast of cold arctic air that will bring single digit wind chills to our state. 

“Being unprepared for winter weather is not only inconvenient, it’s dangerous,” said IEMA Chief of Staff Jennifer Ricker. “With more snow and dangerously cold temperatures on tap for much of the state, the time to act is now to ensure you and your family are prepared for everything from a dusting of snow to a major winter storm.”  

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency maintains the Ready Illinois website which includes critical safety information to help Illinoisans before, during and after any hazard, man-made or natural. 
Winter Weather Preparedness tips include:

  • Familiarize yourself with the various weather alert definitions, so you know how to keep your family safe;
  • Winterize your home and take steps to prevent frozen water pipes; 
  • Don’t wait. Communicate. Create and discuss emergency plans for you and your family;
  • Charge your mobile devices before any storm; 
  • Build a home emergency kit with items such as a food, water, medications, NOAA weather radio, flashlight and spare batteries;
  • Stock your vehicle with the emergency items such as a first aid kit, phone charger, blankets, extra clothes, jumper cables, kitty litter or sand, a flashlight and snow scraper in the event you must travel;
  • If you lose power, seek out a warming center in your area until the power can be restored. 

As the winter storm approaches, public safety officials urge residents to stay ahead of the storm by following the watches and warnings issued by the National Weather Service.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a free mobile app that once downloaded allows you to receive emergency alerts and information for up to five different locations.  Enabling alerts on your mobile device is an essential preparedness tool that allows you receive important lifesaving information regardless whether you are at home, work or traveling.

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When possible, stay off the roads during and immediately after a storm.  This allows crews to effectively clear and appropriately treat area roadways.  If you must travel during a storm, please remember to share the road.  Illinois law requires drivers to change lanes when approaching police or other emergency vehicles.

More tips for staying safe at home and on the road are available in a Winter Weather Preparedness guide developed by IEMA and the National Weather Service.  This guide is available, in digital form, on the Ready Illinois website at