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Unit 5 officials posted on social media at 10 a.m. Wednesday that classes will be cancelled for a third consecutive day because of the arctic blast covering the state. District 87 followed with its announcement around 10:30 a.m. 

Illinois State University also said late Wednesday afternoon that the school will remain closed on Thursday due to the continuing record cold weather. 

All offices will be closed and classes and activities are canceled. ISU will reopen at 7 a.m. Friday; essential personnel should continue to report to work during the closure period, said the statement.

University residence halls and residence hall dining centers will remain open.

Also, the National Weather Service said the loud, cracking noises residents heard early Wednesday morning were most likely ice quakes.

NWS said many Central Illinois residents reported hearing several cracking or booming noises early Wednesday morning. The NWS in Lincoln said those are most likely ice quakes or frost quakes, a seismic type of event caused by a sudden cracking action in frozen soil or rock that is saturated with ice. When water drains into the ground, if freezes and then expands. That causes stress on the ground, causing the noises.

The region is in the middle of a historic cold wave that has forced the cancellation of schools and the closing of some government buildings, courthouses, churches and businesses Wednesday.

The city of Bloomington, town of Normal and McLean County government and courts were open and garbage and recycling collection proceeded as scheduled.

Courthouses in DeWitt, Logan and Tazewell counties were closed.

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There was no mail delivery on Wednesday and it won't be delivered on Thursday, either.

A wind chill warning remains in effect until Thursday morning. The low temperature on Wednesday was minus 21 degrees, a record for the date. The wind chill value at one point Wednesday morning was minus 50.

Such a warning means the combination of very cold air and wind creates dangerously low wind chill values, frostbite can occur quickly and even hypothermia or death are possible if precautions are not taken.

Most school districts across the area, including Normal-based McLean County Unit 5, Bloomington District 87 and Stanford-based Olympia, were closed Wednesday and all will be closed Thursday, too. Classes also were canceled at Illinois State University, Illinois Wesleyan University and Heartland Community College. ISU and IWU are scheduled to reopen Thursday morning; HCC is closed Thursday.

Illinois State Police will have extra patrols through Thursday to assist stranded motorists. Police said that if a driver has a problem with their vehicle, they should to stay with it and immediately call for help, if possible.

At the Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington, one flight, the 9:30 a.m. Wednesday flight arriving from Chicago and one departing at 10:10 a.m., were cancelled. One arriving flight and two departures are canceled Thursday morning; check cira.com for details.

Ameren Illinois has activated its Emergency Operations Center to help coordinate its response to the winter threat. Corn Belt Energy also announced it will be ready if power is lost.

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Contact Kevin Barlow at (309) 820-3238. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_barlow

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Agriculture Reporter

Agriculture reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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