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Photos: Ice covers the Chicago River and Metra tracks are on fire

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Here’s what the city looks like in extreme cold

Steam rises above the Chicago River as temperatures dropped to 22 below zero on January 30, 2019.
Steam rises above the Chicago River as temperatures dropped to 22 below zero on January 30, 2019.
AFP/Getty Images

This week Chicago is experiencing temperatures that give the name Chiberia some truth.

While technically yes, it is colder in Chicago than it is in Antarctica, weather nerds are not impressed. The continent is in the middle of its summer, and the Arctic air here can bring some of the lowest temperatures of winter, so it’s not a fair comparison.

The cold weather has slowed down parts of the city—some folks get to work from home and stay indoors. Even postal workers in Illinois get a rare break from delivering mail. However, there are people hustling across the Chicago at transit agencies, city organizations, hospitals, and police stations making sure residents stay safe and warm.

The extreme weather has affected Chicago in ways that most residents probably haven’t seen in a long while. This morning a layer of ice covered the North Branch of the Chicago River, commuters wore ski masks, and flaming gas-fired Metra rail heaters were switched on.

A sunrise at 31st Street Beach in Chicago on Tuesday, January 29, 2019.
Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images
A boat cuts through the ice in the Chicago River near the Michigan Avenue Bridge on Tuesday, January 29, 2019.
Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images
Steam rises up on the surface of Lake Michigan on Wednesday, January 30, 2019.
AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato
Ice forms along the shore of Lake Michigan on Wednesday, January 30, 2019.
AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato
Metra trains go in and out of the Western Avenue Station in subzero temperatures. This is the busiest station with over 300 trains passing through here on weekdays.
Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images
The tracks are heated with gas-fired switch heaters that help prevent switching problems in extreme weather. “They are like giant gas grills.” said Metra spokesperson Meg Reile.
AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato
Commuters crossed downtown bridges as steam covered Lake Michigan on Wednesday, January 30, 2019.
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Ice covered the Chicago River early Wednesday, January 30, 2019.
AP Photo/Teresa Crawford
Steam floats above Lake Michigan midday on Wednesday, January 30, 2019.
Joshua Lott/AFP/Getty Images
Ducks rested in Lake Michigan as temperatures dropped to about 20 below zero on Wednesday, January 30.
Joshua Lott/AFP/Getty Images
Not everyone chose to stay inside on one of the coldest days in Chicago on Wednesday, January 30.
Joshua Lott/AFP/Getty Images