Extreme weather rattled many in the Northwest Suburbs during the first week of 2014, shutting down schools, park district programming and even garbage pick-up.
The temperature reading as of early Monday morning was about -7 degrees, with about 26 inches of snow on the ground, according to Scott Shirley, Arlington Heights' public works director.
The dangerously low temperatures early in the week disrupted schools and parks, according to announcements posted on district websites.
Arlington Heights School District 25, Palatine's Community Consolidated School District 15 and the Arlington Heights-based Township High School District 214 all canceled school for Monday and Tuesday.
Meg Ramsland, 18, a senior at William Fremd High School in Palatine, said although she appreciated having Monday off to sleep in and have an extra day to finish up homework assigned to be completed over the Christmas break, the second day off on Tuesday made her a little worried.
"I think even though I like it, it's going to be very difficult for teachers to catch up, especially because finals are next week and there are still full units that we were supposed to learn this week that we may not be able to get through," said Ramsland who has all Advanced Placement and Honors classes.
"So, just by missing two days, I'm missing a lot of information," she said.
Harper College in Palatine won't have school in session until Jan. 13, but the community college similarly shut down its campus early this week. That meant facilities usually open to the community even when school is out – including the library and a membership-based gym – were closed Monday and Tuesday.
Trash pick-up also was affected. The northwest suburban villages of Arlington Heights, Palatine and Buffalo Grove announced that garbage collection was canceled on Monday due to the weather conditions.
Local park districts also shut down, with the exception of Arlington Heights' senior center. Palatine closed for the two days, as was Buffalo Grove's basketball practice, dance and preschool.
Meanwhile, village board meetings continued on, including in Buffalo Grove and Palatine. Although Arlington Heights' 8 p.m. meeting was held, village spokeswoman Nancy Kluz said that the preceding Committee of the Whole meeting was canceled.
The miserable winter weather has been a week-long endeavor for Arlington Heights, with the village anticipating hundreds of hours of overtime.
"This thing started 4 o'clock New Years Eve, and it's really been constant since then," Shirley said. "We've been going pretty much nonstop since the 31st."
Shirley said the village dealt with the two feet of snow with as many as 60 workers on 12-hour shifts. And some of the heaviest snow totals came during some of the most expensive, "inopportune" hours --including weekends, evenings and double pay for the New Year's Day holiday.
"The impact is going to be significant," he said.
Shirley also said he expects the latest storm will keep the public works department under its $509,000 budget for overtime pay, although the exact cost and man hours will be tallied later. Still, with two-thirds of the winter season remaining, the whole event has been "very, very expensive for this time of year."
There have been no work-related injuries, but a minor collision involving a public works truck at a parking garage was reported, Shirley said.
The Arlington Heights Fire Department has also reported no major incidents village-wide, but is dealing with the subzero temperatures with an extra squad truck and two additional firefighters, said Bernie Lyons, deputy chief.
The squad truck is more flexible because it's about the size of an ambulance and doesn't carry water or hoses. The department is sending the truck on emergency calls and non-fire related incidents to keep the larger fire engines indoors to prevent freezing, Lyons said.
"We feel very lucky so far that we haven't had anything unusual, but we're ready," Lyons said.