The latest headlines from the WNYC newsroom:
Mayor Bill de Blasio said his administration will decide early Friday morning whether to close New York City's public schools, following a winter storm that is expected to bring blizzard-like conditions and sub-zero wind chilled-temperatures overnight. He said it's too soon to tell what tomorrow's weather conditions will be. He did not declare a snow emergency. Forecasters predict the snow will stop Friday morning, but gusting winds will continue, blowing the snow and making the air feel as cold as minus 6 degrees. Alternate side parking rules are suspended Friday for storm preparations. Parking meter rules remain in effect.
The winter storm moving into the Northeast has already pounded the Midwest. It dropped as much as 18 inches of snow on suburban Chicago and up to 10 inches in Michigan. Triple-A Michigan said it received 3,100 calls today from drivers dealing with spin-outs, cars in ditches and dead batteries.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has ordered several major highways in New York closed at midnight, including the Long Island Expressway in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Interstate 84 and the Thruway south of Albany will also be closed. He said the closures will keep drivers out of harm's way and give snow removal crews more leeway. He said the goal is to have the highways open by 5:00 A.M. Friday.
All 52 passengers trapped for more than a week on an icebound Russian research ship in the Antarctic are now on an icebreaker, headed to Australia. The passengers were ferried out by a Chinese helicopter.
Two 10th graders at an Upper West Side high school were injured this morning in an explosion during a chemistry class. The accident happened just after 9 o'clock at the Beacon School. A Department of Education spokeswoman says one student suffered burns to the face and neck and is hospitalized in serious condition. The other student suffered burns to the hand and was treated and released. New schools chancellor Carmen Farina said she called both students' families.
New York's new police commissioner, Bill Bratton, said his main task will be healing the rift between officers and residents of communities that have been "overpoliced." Bratton was sworn in today by Mayor de Blasio, returning to a position he held in the mid-1990s. Bratton praised his predecessor, Ray Kelly, for continuing to drive down the city's crime rate, but said the intrusion into people's lives should have diminished, too.
Secretary of State John Kerry is in Israel for Middle East peace talks. The talks are entering a difficult phase aimed at reaching a two-state solution between the Israelis and Palestinians. Meanwhile, an Israeli hospital says outspoken hardliner and former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is in critical condition. He's been in a coma since a 2006 stroke.
The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dipped 2,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 339,000. It is evidence that layoffs are low and hiring will likely remain steady.
The California Supreme Court has granted a law license to a man who has been living the U.S. illegally for two decades. Sergio Garcia graduated from law school and passed the state bar exam. He has challenged a 1996 law that bars people living in the country illegally from receiving "professional licenses" from government agencies. Advocates hope the ruling will open the door to immigrants seeking to enter other professions such as medicine, nursing and accounting.
Tonight, snow accumulation of about an inch a minute, winds 15-25 miles per hour with wind gusts up to 35, low 15 but wind chill around zero. Tomorrow, Friday, blowing snow, brightening skies, but frigid air. High 16, wind chill -6.