Thousands without power as temperatures plummet in Illinois, some without heat

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CHICAGO — ComEd says crews have restored power to more than 42,000 customers and are working to restore another 9,400 as double-digit subzero temperatures hit Illinois. The cold struck Chicago transportation Wednesday morning too, with more than 1,600 canceled flights and limited rail service. The National Weather Service says the actual temperature was 23 below zero at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Wind chills in northern Illinois were as low as 57 below in Rockford. Officials have warned against venturing out into the dangerously cold weather and the governor has issued a disaster proclamation. The South Shore Line suspended its commuter rail trips Wednesday and said it expected limited service Thursday. Extreme weather conditions earlier prompted Amtrak to cancel all trains into and out of Chicago on Wednesday and most services to or from Chicago on Thursday. Some major Chicago attractions weren’t open Wednesday and schools are closed.

Older furnaces may not be able to keep up with cold

Heating companies fielded a lot of calls Wednesday, as furnaces struggle to keep up with the subzero temperatures. The Athans family, in Park Ridge, found out that the temperature in their house may not go up until the temperature outside does. The thermostat is set at 77 but the temperature is 20 degrees colder. Overnight, it dipped into the 40s. Michael Athans called in a professional. Craig Milner from Home Comfort Heating and Cooling came to look at the 18-year-old furnace. The furnace was unfixable, which is not unusual for days like Wednesday when the temperature is way below zero. Some older furnaces just can’t keep up. “The temperature with the poor insulation, just typical old home drafts, and I think it’s just doing what it can. It’s just working really hard,” Milner said. The Athans family is trying to make the best of it. They’re catching up on Netflix in front of the fireplace, layering up and not complaining at all. “There are other people struggling and, God forbid, really in danger, so we can live with that for a couple of days,” Athans said.

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