Cold weather forces closure of Chicago's Brookfield Zoo

Photo from Chicago Zoological Society
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MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The Latest on a major snowstorm and the expected frigid weather in the Midwest (all times local):

2:45 p.m.

The Chicago Zoological Society says it's closing the Brookfield Zoo on Wednesday and Thursday because of frigid, potentially record-breaking weather.

Chicago Zoological Society CEO Stuart Strahl says the closure will ensure the safety of employees and animals. Strahl says only a few employees will be on-site to "provide basic core functions."

It's only the fourth time the zoo has been closed during its 85-year-history. Zoo officials say they expect to reopen the zoo on February 1.

Heavy snow and gusting winds have also created blizzard-like conditions in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and other Midwestern states where officials have closed schools, courthouses and businesses.

But it's the plunging temperatures expected later this week that have forecasters especially concerned. Wind chills could dip to negative 55 degrees in northern Illinois.

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12:25 p.m.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has declared a state of emergency because of snow and impending dangerously cold temperatures.

Evers signed the order Monday that directs all state agencies to assist if any emergency response and recovery efforts are needed because of the snowstorm and cold that has hit Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan and other Midwestern states .

Evers is also activating the Wisconsin National Guard to assist with local emergency responders, if necessary.

Many parts of Wisconsin had received up to 7 inches of snow as of Monday morning, with forecasts calling for a foot or more in some areas. The snow was to be followed by temperatures not rising above zero through Thursday, with wind chills as low as 50 below zero.

Wisconsin state offices remained open on Monday.

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12 p.m.

More than 1,000 flights have been canceled at Chicago's largest airports as a snowstorm crawls through several Midwestern states ahead of frigidly cold weather.

The Chicago Department of Aviation said about 790 flights were canceled at O'Hare International Airport and about 220 were canceled at Midway International Airport as of Monday morning. O'Hare had delays of about 50 minutes, while delays were about 15 minutes at Midway.

Heavy snow and gusting winds have also created blizzard-like conditions in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and other Midwestern states where officials have closed schools, courthouses and businesses.

But it's the plunging temperatures expected later this week that have forecasters especially concerned. Wind chills could dip to negative 55 degrees (negative 48 degrees Celsius) in northern Illinois, which the National Weather Service calls "possibly life threatening."

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9:40 a.m.

Heavy snow has led to the closure of Michigan's state government, including the Capitol building and legislative offices, as a snowstorm moves across the region ahead of frigidly cold weather.

Most state government offices in the Lower Peninsula were closed Monday morning except for offices handling critical functions. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is encouraging motorists to stay off the roads.

Heavy snow and gusting winds have also created blizzard-like conditions in Minnesota, Wisconsin, northern Illinois and other Midwestern states where officials have also closed schools, courthouses and businesses.

But it's the plunging temperatures expected later this week that have forecasters especially concerned. Wind chills could dip to negative 55 degrees in northern Illinois, which the National Weather Service calls "possibly life threatening."

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9:20 a.m.

A winter storm brought several inches of snow to northern Illinois as the region braces for record-low subzero temperatures.

The Chicago suburb of Palatine saw more than 5 inches (13 centimeters) Monday morning as the storm created slick roadways. A National Weather Service warning says up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) were possible by midday.

But Monday's snow is just a precursor to what's in store for Illinois starting Tuesday. Forecasters warn of record cold temperatures and wind chills that could be "possibly life threatening."

The weather service says the Rockford area could get colder than the record low of minus 27 degrees (negative 32.8 degrees Celsius) on Wednesday. Chicago looks a few degrees above its record. But wind chills could dip to 55 degrees below zero (negative 48.3 degrees Celsius).

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6:30 a.m.

Heavy snow and gusting winds have created blizzard-like conditions across the Upper Midwest, prompting officials to close hundreds of schools, courthouses and businesses, and ground air travel.

Even snowplow drivers are having trouble keeping up with conditions Monday . And once the snowstorm is over, forecasters say record cold is expected to settle into the region.

More than a foot (30.5 centimeters) of snow was expected to accumulate Monday in southeastern Wisconsin and southeastern Minnesota. The largest public school districts in both states are among those closed, including districts in Milwaukee, Minneapolis and St. Paul.

In Wisconsin, courthouses and most offices are closed in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Columbia and Washington counties. More than three dozen flights were canceled early Monday at Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee County.

In eastern North Dakota, officials have issued travel alerts because of blowing snow.

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12 a.m.

A winter storm pushing across the Upper Midwest is expected to dump more than a foot of snow in parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The National Weather Service says blizzard conditions were reported Sunday in eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota. Officials have issued a travel alert for north-central and eastern North Dakota due to snow and blowing snow, while no travel is advised in the south-central part of the state due to freezing rain and snow.

In Wisconsin, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele has declared a local snow emergency. The county's courts and nonessential services will be closed Monday. Milwaukee Public Schools and Minneapolis Public Schools also will be closed.

Chicago could see 6 inches (15.24 centimeters) of snow, followed by arctic cold.

Meteorologist Tyler Hasenstein of the National Weather Service says parts of far southeastern Minnesota into western Wisconsin could see up to 14 inches (35.5 centimeters) of snow.

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1/28/2019 3:46:52 PM (GMT -5:00)