Polar Vortex Shutters Much of Central Illinois

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The deadly arctic deep freeze enveloping the Midwest is forcing widespread closure of schools, businesses and government offices. It’s also prompted the U.S. Postal Service to take the rare step of suspending mail delivery to a wide swath of the region.

A Wind Chill Warning remains in effect for the Peoria Public Radio listening area until Noon on Thursday. The National Weather Service says wind chills as low as 50 degrees below zero remain possible into Thursday morning. This can result in frostbite on exposed skin in under 10 minutes and lead to hypothermia or even death.

Illinois residents are urged to check with final destinations before heading out the door.

The city of Peoria issued a limited state of emergency Tuesday afternoon. Mayor Jim Ardis is encouraging residents to avoid unnecessary travel, stay indoors, be mindful of pets and check on neighbors and seniors.

Most, if not all, area schools are closed at least Wednesday and some are also out of class Thursday. Many city and county public offices and some medical offices are also closed Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Postal Service is taking the rare step of suspending mail delivery in multiple states. Central Illinois service is suspended in the following three-digit ZIP Code locations: 601, 603 through 605, 609, 613, 614, 616 and 617. This includes Peoria, Tazewell, and Woodford counties. Mail from businesses and collection boxes also won’t be picked up, and commercial and residential package services are also suspended. Retail operations at local offices may also be limited.

The extreme weather conditions prompted Amtrak to cancel all trains into and out of Chicago. Amtrak says short-distance and long-distance, overnight trains are cancelled for Wednesday. Short-distance services are also canceled on Thursday, and most long-distance services to or from Chicago are also not expected to operate Thursday.

More than 1,500 flights are canceled at Chicago's airports. The National Weather service says the actual temperature was 23 below zero at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on Wednesday morning.

Peoria International Airport is reporting some American and United airlines arrivals and departures with O’Hare International Airport are cancelled. Please check with your local airline if you have plans to travel through Peoria or Chicago Wednesday.