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CHICAGO — Chicago and the surrounding area is bracing for dangerously cold temperatures. Temperatures are expected to drop well below zero starting Thursday night and into Friday morning.  

Up-to-date list of local school closings here.

  Ice and subzero temperatures can even bring a speeding train to a halt. So Metra crews are working in advance to prevent potential problems. During the severe cold, Metra plans to place speed restrictions on all its lines. Trains will be reduced to 65 miles per hour from 79 miles per hour. But temperatures lower than -10 degrees, the top speed will be reduced to 60 miles per hour. Conductors also plan to slow approaches into stations to prevent wear and tear on the braking systems and wheels. Crews have worked to remove ice from stations and rail yards. Snow and ice can also block and freeze a switch and prevent it from working so Metra uses heaters and shields to protect switches during winter weather. Hot jet blowers are also used to help clear the yards of snow and ice. Even if all goes as planned, these additional steps can set off a domino effect causing trains to run behind schedule. Metra advisers riders to check train schedules and allow for extra time.
In addition. the next seven days are going to average more than 25-degrees below normal and more than 30-degrees below next Wednesday and Thursday.   Two cold waves hit in the next week.  The first sweeping in now and expected to plunge chills to 25 to 30-below by morning.  A second is due Tuesday and the remainder of the next week that will be even stronger! Highs by the middle of next week will fail to get above zero. This has happened only three times in the past 24 years. Stay safe everyone! Forecast updates at