Some parts of the Chicago area saw more than 6 inches of snow Tuesday, and lake-effect snow was expected to continue into Wednesday, said Ricky Castro, a meteorologist with the national weather service.
Forecasters had warned that most of the 5 to 8 inches expected in the Chicago area from a storm system that blanketed much of the Midwest would fall before 3 a.m. Tuesday, but many areas only saw a few inches. The total snowfall varied by north and south locations across the metro area, Castro said.
By Tuesday evening, northwest of Cook County had 7.3 inches of snowfall while downtown near Millennium Park saw 3.2 inches, he said.
“There was a distinct north to south difference in Cook County itself,” he said. “It was mainly localized, there’s always challenges in predicting snowfall. There’s always these small scale details that change how a weather system happens.
Here are the latest weather updates in the Chicago area:
4:25 p.m.: Local Chicago volunteers help disabled, older residents clear snow: ‘I feel like somebody cares’
Jessica Donmez used to dread the snow. She is disabled, and can’t shovel her sidewalk. In Chicago, where homeowners and businesses face fines if they don’t clear sidewalks soon after snowfalls, that’s a problem.
“Every time I listened to the news, if it was going to snow, I’m like ‘What I’m going to do? What I’m going to do?’ ” Donmez said. “I always worried about it. It was really stressful.”
A program under former Mayor Rahm Emanuel connected disabled and elderly homeowners with shovel-equipped volunteers, but the former site for the program now only links to updates about city shoveling ordinances and city snowplows and the office that ran it didn’t respond to numerous requests for comment. Now, some ward offices and community groups are stepping in to fill the gap for disabled and older residents.
Donmez, who has fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, said that in winters past, she scrambled to recruit neighborhood children or neighbors into helping her out, and resorted to calling her adult son if nobody else could make it to her home before the deadlines laid out by the city’s ordinances hit.
The 40th Ward, where Donmez lives, began reaching out to potential volunteers last winter, and this year, its Shovel Squad initiative is in full swing. Meanwhile, the group My Block, My Hood, My City is organizing volunteers to shovel for older residents across the city.
3:05 p.m.: Snow halts recycling collection on Northwest Side, much of West Side.
As snow continued to fall across Chicago on Tuesday afternoon, the city announced recycling collection delays for much of the Northwest Side and part of the West Side.
Two different companies service Chicago’s six recycling zones, alongside the city’s Department of Streets and Sanitation. Waste Management, which takes care of recycling for zones 1 and 3, which includes most of the Northwest Side and parts of the West Side, including Wicker Park and Ukrainian Village, was put a day behind by the snowstorm.
“All areas that are experiencing delays will have collection service this week,” said Cristina Villarreal, a Department of Streets and Sanitation spokesperson in an email.
Waste Management is running on a one-day delay, according to Waste Management of Illinois spokesperson Lisa Disbrow. The company will get back to collecting recyclables on Wednesday and should be caught up by Friday.
“Waste Management customers should leave their recycling containers out for one additional day this week,” said 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins in an email to constituents.
12:38 p.m.: ‘Winter wonderland’ keeps kids happy in Oak Park.
In Oak Park, the snow couldn’t have come on a better day: School was out as teachers prepared to go to hybrid learning, and that meant that by 10 a.m., scores of bundled up youngsters were covering the sledding hill at Barrie Park.
“Because of the transition at school, this is a perfect day for kids and parents to be out, to see each other,” said Flavian Prince, an educator in Chicago.
No one was more enthused Tuesday morning than Prince’s 8-year-old son: “He jumped up and literally said, ‘It’s a winter wonderland, and I’m not going in for the rest of the day,’” the boy’s father said.
He said, “Winter wonderland?”
“Literally,” said Prince.
As the boy plunged down the hill and then trudged back up, managing to avoid the profound potential for sled-on-leg collisions, Prince talked with friend Baird Harper, whose own 8-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter were also taking advantage of gravity and precipitation.
“They were thrilled this morning, especially after waiting all winter with essentially no snow,” said Harper, a college creative writing teacher and author of the novel “Red Light Run.”
Having a hill in the Prairie State, even a human-made one like the modest peak at Barrie Park, is a rare treat, he acknowledged, and the combination of snow and an off day was “a really lucky coincidence.”
“This gets more attention on a day like today than any place else in the village,” Harper said.
11:00 a.m.: Tri-State traffic returning to normal after Wisconsin crash, other area expressways clearing
Traffic is “starting to return to normal” after a crash on the Wisconsin side of the border on the Tri-State Tollway caused significant backups this morning, Illinois Department of Transportation spokesman Guy Tridgell said.
Expressways are in “very good shape,” with mostly wet pavement, Tridgell said. The agency’s focus is on cleaning up arterial streets and highways.
“Not completely out of the woods yet. Some freezing precipitation is a possibility as well as lake effect snow closer to the city. Still need people to slow down, avoid distractions, focus on driving and build some extra time into their schedules while traveling throughout the day,” Tridgell said.
10:23 a.m.: Toll roads clear in northern Illinois, Tollway says
Road sensors and a spokesperson for the Illinois Tollway indicated the agency has been able to keep its roads mostly clear.
“The Tollway has had full crews out plowing and applying salt to our roads since Monday afternoon.
“At this point, we have clear, wet pavement across most of our system, and traffic is moving near the posted speed limits.
“We’ll continue to operate full crews until the storm ends.”
9:45 a.m.: Roads snowy and slick; transit mostly clear & on-time
CTA Brown Line trains are operating with delays after a train door problem occurred around 8:40 a.m. at the Western station, according to the agency’s alerts site. Metra and South Shore Line trains are running as scheduled, spokespeople for those systems report.
A CTA spokesperson later said that the “minor door problem … was not weather-related. Loop-bound trains were delayed about 10 minutes and service is returning to normal, with some residual delays.”
Every county in northern Illinois listed local road conditions as either “covered with ice or snow” or “mostly covered with ice or snow,” according to the Illinois Department of Transportation’s winter conditions site.
Steve Snow uses a tractor to clear his driveway in Bennington, Neb., on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. The Omaha area recorded almost 12 inches of snow. (Chris Machian/Omaha World-Herald/AP)
9:34 a.m.: In other parts of the Midwest, ‘historic’ storm packs a big punch
More than a foot of snow has been dropped on parts of Nebraska and Iowa, disrupting traffic and shuttering some schools, as heavy winds cause traffic problems in Wisconsin.
There were early closures of several coronavirus testing sites on Monday in Nebraska and Iowa, and both states saw 12 or 13 inches of snow by Tuesday morning. At least 4 inches of snow was expected into Tuesday across most of an area stretching from central Kansas northeast to Chicago and southern Michigan.
National Weather Service meteorologist Taylor Nicolaisen, who is based near Omaha, said up to 15 inches was likely between York, Nebraska, and Des Moines, Iowa, and it has been at least 15 years since that area received more than a foot of snow in a single storm.
“This is historic snow,” Nicolaisen said.
The storm was making travel treacherous as wind-whipped snow piled up Tuesday in Wisconsin, where a jack-knifed semi temporarily closed interstate lanes south of Milwaukee before dawn. The weather service predicted up to 10 inches of snow could fall in the Milwaukee area, with the highest totals along Lake Michigan.
Wind gusts of 15 mph to 25 mph were reported across southern Wisconsin, creating drifting snow, reduced visibilities and complicating snow removal efforts, said Andy Boxell, a meteorologist with the weather service’s office in Sullivan, Wisconsin.
“It’s not only snow but it’s pretty darn windy out there, so that’s causing a lot blowing and drifting,” he said.
9:23 a.m.: On North Side, ‘life slows down’ as residents try to go about their days
In Rogers Park, commuters and dog walkers still made their way through the snow. Many stopped in the Dunkin’ across from the Morse “L” Red Line station before crossing the street to the platform. Main roads like Morse Avenue were fairly well-paved compared to the neighborhood’s residential side streets.
Rashmi Holla, 38, stood under the a bus stop shelter on Morse Avenue as she waited for the 155 bus to take her to her 8 a.m. physical therapy appointment on Devon Street. She worried if the bus schedules would be delayed due to the weather.
“It’s so cold, and as you can see, the roads are so messy and slippery. I was actually worried how I would even come to the bus stop, but I made it,” she said. “I did not expect it to be so bad.”
However, the snow was not as bad as winter 2019, Holla said. She also has been working from home due to the pandemic.
“It’s actually like a blessing in disguise because I can avoid this weather, and I’m really happy about it,” Holla said.
On Glenwood Avenue, east of the “L” station, 29-year-old Antoineen White used a broom to wipe off snow from her blue Jeep Compass so she can move it to a non-metered spot.
The four-wheel-drive helps her to navigate the snowy roads, she said. In past situations, the streets weren’t well plowed so she had to wait for the car in front of her to move to use the four-wheel-drive to get out of her spot. Since then, she bought a shovel to keep in the Jeep.
“I kind of like (the weather) because I like the snow, but it is not fun for doing this,” she said. “I’m a Midwesterner so I’m very used to the snow. So I just kind of go, ‘It’s nice. and now I have to live with it.”
On the west side of Glenwood Avenue, Lane Roberts, 50, also brushed snow off his vehicle to drive to work about an hour north, but he wasn’t worried about the drive because he also has four-wheel drive. He said he’s originally from Indiana, so he’s also used to the snow. He didn’t keep up with the forecast but knew it was coming.
“I love it,” he said. “Can’t really live in Chicago without liking snow. … I thought, ‘Okay good, finally, a little winter.’”
The winter allows things to “slow down a little bit more. Life slows down,” he said.
9:10 a.m.: ‘No such thing as a snow day’ in Elmhurst, but some kids get time on the sledding hill
In Elmhurst, road crews kept the streets clear of the wet and heavy snow, but people like Trish Poulson and her family were left to deal with their own driveways and sidewalks.
The 3 inches or so prompted the family’s snowblower to make its maiden voyage of the winter, and Poulson and her kids Susie, 7, and John, 11, used shovels to finish off the job. The local school district had declared a day of remote learning because of the snow, meaning the kids would soon be at their computers instead of the sledding hill.
“That was the worst news for them – that there’s no such thing as a snow day anymore,” Poulson said.
The declaration didn’t stop Dave and Devin Zoller and their kids Hazel, 6, and Parker, 4, from getting in a few runs at the Berens Park sledding hill before the Zoom-enabled school day began.
“We were thinking first tracks,” Dave Zoller said. “We were expecting a lot of snow and just wanted to get out before everyone else and have some fun.”
He said the family has used similar excursions to cope with the isolation imposed by the pandemic.
“We have been trying to get out as much as possible into nature,” he said. “We’re trying to use the winter weather for good.”
8:33 a.m.: Snow totals so far deepest west, north of Chicago
Overnight and early morning snow totals appear to be heaviest to the west and north of Chicago, with 4.9 inches piling up in Ashton — about 90 miles due west of downtown in Lee County. In DeKalb, 5.5 inches were observed as of 7 a.m., according to the National Weather Service.
The west suburbs saw between 3.5 and 4 inches observed in Kane and DuPage Counties, including 4 inches in Lisle and Aurora, the snow tapering some as it moved closer to Chicago, although 5 inches was reported in Oak Park, 4.6 inches in Buffalo Grove and 4.8 inches in Lake Zurich.
The weather service reported 3.5 inches in near north suburban Lincolnwood. Further north, in Lake County, Highwood marked close to 5 inches.
In the distant northwest of the region, 2.5 inches were recorded by the National Weather Service in Harvard. Three inches were observed in Hebron.
8 a.m.: Messy roads make for slow going and some minor crashes, transit doing all right in snowstorm
The Illinois Department of Transportation noted some minor car accidents and spin-outs, but reported no major crashes tied to this morning’s snowfall.
Every county in northern Illinois listed local conditions as either “covered with ice or snow” or “mostly covered with ice or snow,” according to IDOT’s winter conditions site. An IDOT spokeswoman warned of drifting snow and slick conditions.
CTA train service was running as scheduled this morning, while Metra reported a 20-minute delay on one outbound train on the Union Pacific-West line because an automobile got stuck on the tracks in River Forest sometime after 6 a.m. The automobile was removed without incident, according to a Metra spokeswoman.
7:50 a.m.: Naperville employs all its 24 public works trucks after 2 inches of snow falls overnight
All of Naperville’s 24 public works trucks were continually salting and plowing roadways overnight, according to the city’s winter weather operations website. The village reported 2 inches of snow as of 6 a.m. with the possibility of an additional 1 to 1 ½ inches.
Crews began focusing on residential side streets Tuesday morning. Contractors began treating cul-de-sacs at 6 a.m. That process could take at least 12 hours, according to the website.
The city reported that its electronic recycling center will be closed Tuesday. It was expected there would be no change to garbage or recycling pickup, although service could be delayed.
7:39 a.m.: Main streets ‘looking good’ in city, but plows still working
City officials said that they had 300 salt spreaders and plows on the streets Tuesday morning, with Lake Shore Drive “and main streets…looking good.”
”If you need to go out this morning, give yourself extra time and drive according to conditions,” according to the city’s Department of Streets and Sanitation.
7:23 a.m.: DuPage County’s COVID-19 testing site in Wheaton closed for the day due to snow; Villa Park facility open
The DuPage County Health Department announced that because of the heavy snowfall, its COVID-19 testing site near County Farm and Manchester roads in Wheaton would be closed on Tuesday. The department’s testing site at the Odeum Expo Center, at 1033 N. Villa Ave. in Villa Park, will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday.
The Wheaton facility is scheduled to reopen at 7 a.m. on Wednesday.
7 a.m.: Area schools, districts declare a snow day
Many schools that have been holding in-person classes this semester reverted to virtual learning or called a snow day Tuesday, according to numerous entries on the emergency closing center website.
At least 18 districts had closed for the day as of about 6:30 a.m. Another 50 districts listed “e-learning” as their form of instruction for Tuesday. Others yet chose to delay opening, often for a period of two hours. Private schools such as Montessori and Waldorf schools were closed as were some religious schools, including some Catholic, Lutheran and Evangelical schools.
Also closed were more than a dozen daycare facilities and a handful of government offices, from libraries to park districts. Two area college campuses also were closed to in-person studies.For a complete list of individual closures, visit the emergency closing center website.
6:50 a.m.: Northbrook plows keeping main roads clear
In north suburban Northbrook, village plows were keeping up with clearing the main roads as the snow, about 5 inches so far in the pre-dawn hours, continued to fall. At least one early-morning facility, the North Suburban YMCA, opened as usual at 5 a.m.
5:20 a.m.: Forecasters: Snowfall totals not yet available but if roads are any indication, it was a significant system
It was too soon to say how accurate forecast snowfall amounts were, meteorologist Lee Carlaw said about 4:30 a.m. But one thing was certain: “The roads are definitely not in great shape this morning.”
According to the Illinois Department of Transportation’s winter conditions website, every county in northern Illinois listed local conditions as either “covered with ice or snow” or “mostly covered with ice or snow.” Carlaw said a National Weather Service coworker whose drive home from the Romeoville office took him through portions of Will and DuPage counties said he encountered the same band of snow that lashed downtown Chicago as he made his way home in the middle of the night.
“It’s very heavy snow,” Carlaw said. “The going forecast for greater Chicago was roughly 5 to 8 inches. It still kind of remains to be seen how much more we’ll get. Throughout the rest of the day we could reasonably expect another 2 to 4 inches on top of what’s already there. I wouldn’t be surprised if by the end of the day we hit 8 inches.”
And although he said meteorologists have “heard that there were reports of a foot-plus of snow in some places,” he reiterated that it was too soon to know whether such estimates were believable. Official snowfall observations were not expected until about 6:30 a.m. at the earliest, he said.
He said some dry air moved into the area ahead of the storm that the system had to overcome before dropping precipitation, which it managed and then some.”It seems like it was snowing pretty darn heavy there for a while,” Carlaw said.
8:31 p.m.: Northbound Skyway lanes closed, dozens of flights canceled
The northbound lanes of the Chicago Skyway to the northbound Dan Ryan Expressway express lanes were closed Monday due to the storm.
Both Chicago airports reported flight delays of less than 15 minutes Monday night, with 119 flight cancellations at O’Hare International Airport and 46 cancellations at Midway International Airport.
Metra, the commuter rail services, reported that it will make every effort to provide normal service, but severe winter weather has the potential to disrupt service and cause delays.
7:35 p.m.: 4 to 8 inches forecast overnight for Chicago’s north neighborhoods and near the lake
On Monday evening, snow spread across the metro area in pockets, said Matt Friedlein, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Friedlein said that most of the area will see snowfall with fluctuating intensity and visibility depending on the area.
Far south neighborhoods could see up to 3 inches of snow with neighborhoods north and near the lake expecting 4 to 8 inches overnight, he added.
6:09 p.m.: Chicago preps for slick roads, freezing temps
The city of Chicago issued a series of weather warnings Monday night, warning residents of heavy snow accumulations and high wind gusts.
“Residents are urged to take precaution, plan accordingly and allow extra time while driving to and from your destination. Hazardous conditions are likely to impact the Monday evening and Tuesday morning commutes. Some power outages are possible due to the combined effects of the expected wetter nature of the snow and strong and gusty winds,” the Office of Emergency Management & Communications said in a statement.
An estimated 280 salt spreaders are responding to the storm with a focus on Chicago’s main routes and Lake Shore Drive, according to the Department of Streets and Sanitation.
As temperatures drop below freezing, warming areas are available at the city’s six community service centers from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, according to the Department of Family and Support Services. If needed, libraries and park facilities may also activate warming areas. The Garfield Community Service Center in East Garfield Park is also open on a 24-hour basis.
4:25 p.m.: Snow hits Chicago area
By 4 p.m., snow was reported at Midway Airport and Aurora, according to the National Weather Service.
Winds at Midway were clocked at 17 mph from the east, with gusts of 26 mph, while northeast winds of 22 mph, with 32 mph gusts, were recorded at Aurora, according to the weather service.
State highway officials were reporting roads partly covered with ice or snow from just south of the Jane Addams Tollway just east of Interstate 39 to a few miles north of U.S. Highway 34 and west to near Sterling along the Reagan Memorial Tollway.
3:45 p.m.: Weather service says snow expected to start ‘across parts of northern Illinois’ soon after 3:30 p.m.
The National Weather Service’s Chicago area office said snow was expected to start in parts of northern Illinois soon after 3:30 p.m.
“The current forecast is for the heaviest snowfall to occur along and north of I-80 where a band of 4-7 inches is likely,” the weather service said. “Higher totals are possible closer to Lake Michigan.”
Forecast snow totals have been refined in the last few hours, with the heaviest snowfall, of 5-8 inches expected in Chicago, northern Cook County, Lake County, Illinois and eastern McHenry County, up into far southeastern Wisconsin.
3:15 p.m.: Snowplows at the ready
City and state transportation officials had snowplows at the ready Monday afternoon, bracing for the afternoon rush hour.
State officials and the city of Chicago had their snow command centers going, with snow plows and salt trucks ready to move, according to officials.
More than 280 trucks were ready to go in Chicago, and “Crews will work through the night clearing arterial streets & then head in to residential blocks,” according to the city.
Meanwhile, the Illinois Tollway has canceled all overnight roadwork through Wednesday, a spokesman said.
3 p.m.: Snow hitting Peru, just outside Chicago area
Snow was falling in western, north-central and central Illinois by 3 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.
The official weather stations in Moline and Galesburg in western Illinois recorded light snow falling, as flurries fell in Peru, according to the National Weather Service. Flurries also were falling in Bloomington.
No weather stations in the Chicago area were reporting snowfall as of 3 p.m., however.
3 p.m.: Officials warn drivers to slow down, take it easy in the snow
Law enforcement and other government officials reminded people to slow down in the snow and be careful around both snowplows and emergency vehicles.
“Reduce your risk of a collision by changing the way you drive, and being cautious around snow plows,” the National Weather Service’s Chicago office said.
“As the winter weather moves in this evening (of course at rush hour), please be aware of emergency equipment while you travel on our streets and expressways,” the Chicago Police Department’s Shakespeare District said in a tweet. “A little caution and some extra patience may prevent an accident or even injury. Safe travels!”
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