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Chicago dubbed 'Chiberia' due to extended subzero temps

An official air temperature of 16 degrees below zero was registered at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport this morning, breaking the record of 14 below zero set in 1884 and again in 1988 on Jan. 6, according to the National Weather Service.

Amazingly, 16-below is actually colder than it was for the same day in the South Pole at Antarctica. There, the temperature was recorded at 11 degrees below zero at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station before 8 a.m. Today, Chicago also clocked in as colder than in Novosibirsk in southwest Siberia (6-below), according to the Weather Channel.

The lowest temperature ever recorded in Chicago by the National Weather Service was 27 degrees below zero on Jan. 20, 1985 – a day and date I well remember.

I am not a big fan of “the wind chill factor.” Why not, you ask? Seems to me that “cold” is “cold.” The so-called “wind chill” supposedly adds the prevailing winds to the actual temperature and then measures how the atmosphere “feels.” Huh? Feels to whom? My sister? My boss? The "weather man"? How 'bout the "weather woman"? Everybody....or just me? How could anybody else know how I feel about the whole damn thing? How much more subjective can you get?

Therefore, however, and for whatever it may be worth, the “wind chill” in Chicago on Monday morning was reported to be 40 degrees below zero.

These extreme temperatures are expected to last for at least the next couple of days, meteorologists said.

Weather forecasters are on television almost nonstop warning the city of the potentially life-threatening cold. In fact, one of them while comparing Siberia's comparatively balmy weather to Chicago, dubbed Chicago as "Chiberia."

As far as I am concerned, the cold is not all that concerning. Rather, it is the two major snowfalls which preceded it. Total snow accumulation from the almost nonstop 30 hours of snowfall from Saturday to Sunday amounted to 11.7 inches at O'Hare, as reported by the Chicago Tribune.

Indeed, I actually “lost” a whole automobile in one of Chicago's historic blizzards back in 1978. It was also that classic Chicago snowfall which elected Chicago's first female mayor, Jane Byrne. Byrne stood atop a huge snow drift and stabbed her finger into the television camera, telling people that if we elected her, she'd make sure the snow got shoveled and that the streets were cleared. I raced to my typewriter (no laptops/desktops back then) and pounded out an essay for the Chicago Defender, dubbing Jane Byrne as Chicago's first "Snow Queen."

The clueless mayor at the time, Mike Bilandic, just happened to be vacationing in sunny Florida as his city was buried under literally mountains of snow, and had come to a virtual standstill. Byrne won the election in a landslide (snow-slide?).

(Oh, yeah...I never saw that beautiful, just-paid-off, 1975 red-and-white T-Bird again).

As things stand now, most of the city is closed for business. And after promising for days that schools would stay open despite the extreme cold, Chicago Public Schools finally announced Sunday night that classes were canceled for Monday morning.

Ricardo Martinez is a Chicago Marathoner, having run in 43 marathons, and runing 80 to 100 miles per week, as reported by DNAInfo.com/chicago.

Thus, Chicago's plunge into the deep freeze today did not deter him from a 10-mile run along Chicago's lakefront path.

"Some people are scared about this type of weather, but if they try, they will notice that you can run in every condition," said Martinez, who turned 39 on Sunday. "The [cold] really doesn't bother me. As long as your body gets warmed up, and you keep going, it's fine."

As the attached photo shows, Martinez was certainly dressed for success. He was covered in four layers of upper-body clothing, two pairs of gloves, and donned a facial mask that covered everything but his eyes. (No word on how many pairs of pants he had on, but I'm guessing it was much more than one).

Martinez story is something of an inspiration. 17 years ago after having knee surgery, doctors told him he would never run again.

"That was my inspiration," said Martinez, who is from Mexico. "I did run, so now I keep going. Whatever I can do — if I can run until maybe I'm an 80- or 90-year-old, that would be great."

Likewise, Chicago's River North resident Matan Korrub is a dedicated runner. Korrub, 31, who has completed three marathons and averages about 40 miles a week, jogged three miles, also on the lakefront. And, like Martinez, he was covered head-to-toe in multiple layers, including a full facial mask and skiing goggles.

"People tell me I'm crazy for running in this [weather]. But I felt totally comfortable and safe," Korrub said. "In fact, I was overdressed and I worked up a sweat under all those layers. I genuinely enjoyed the time I spent out there, it was like being on a different planet. I was reluctant to leave."

But on the other side of the coin, a 48-year-old man became Chicago's first weather-related fatality. The man died of a possible heart attack Sunday while shoveling snow, according to the Chicago Police Department.

The still unidentified man was pronounced dead at 10:30 a.m. Monday.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet, Australia is experiencing the hottest heat wave since it began keeping weather records. According to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, a temperature of 122 degrees Fahrenheit was recorded Monday.

References and sources

http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20140106/lakeview/jogging-chiberia-we-found-brave-soul-with-four-layers

http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20140106/chicago/chicago-extreme-cold-temperatures-plunge-chiberia

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/breaking/chi-businesses-extreme-cold-20140106,0,2307710.story

http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/06/us/winter-weather/

http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-1479590.html

http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2014/01/05/cps-to-close-schools-monday/

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-cold-weather-classroom-met-20140106,0,754349.story

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-chicago-weather-20140106,0,1049815.story

http://www.lib.niu.edu/1979/ii790508.html