Dangerous, record-setting cold with wind chills of -50 possible this week

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A blast of arctic air will bring record-breaking cold to the Chicago region this week, with air temperatures hitting -20 degrees, and extreme, dangerous wind chills as low as -50 degrees possible.

Temperatures will begin to drop Monday as arctic air falling south out of Canada moves into the area, and continue to fall Tuesday, reaching the lower single digits for the morning commute, and hitting below zero by the time people head home, with wind chills of -20 to -30 degrees.

Then Wednesday looks like it will reach record-setting cold, starting with a morning low of -21 degrees, breaking the record of -15 degrees set in 1966. A forecasted afternoon high of -13 degrees would also be the coldest in Chicago history, breaking the record of -11 degrees set on Christmas Eve 1983, and January 18, 1994.

Dangerously cold wind chills could reach -40 to -50 degrees Wednesday morning. How long should you or your child spend outside during the morning commute to work or school? At those temperatures, frostbite can occur on exposed skin in 10 minutes. A wind chill of -55 degrees drops it to just five minutes.

Check to see if schools are closed in your area.

Wind chills of -30 to -40 degrees will continue into Thursday morning, when the low is forecast to reach a record -20 degrees. Temperatures are forecast to climb to above zero late Thursday, ending a streak of 48 or more hours of below zero temperatures.

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