The worst snow this season hit the area about 10:30 p.m., and accumulations of between 3 and 5 inches have been reported across the region, weather officials said.
About 4.7 inches of snow accumulated near Midway Airport as of 8:40 p.m., said Jamie Enderlen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
About 5 inches was reported in Waukegan as of 9 p.m. and about 4.9 inches in Naperville as of 10:15 p.m., she said.
The most recent readings at O’Hare and Midway airports were 6 p.m. – Midway reported 3.4 inches of snow and O’Hare reported 2.3 inches.
Most of this storm will move out of the city by about 10 a.m. on Friday leaving frigid temperatures and wind in its wake, with a possibility of lake-effect snow in Northwest Indiana.
Commuters can look forward to single-digit or sub-zero wind-chills by about 6 a.m. Friday with actual temperatures peaking in the high teens, possibly 20, Enderlen said.
Single-digit wind-chills should be expected throughout the day, she said, though the city is expected to be a little warmer than outlying areas.
Because the precipitation was fluffy, Enderlen said to expect blowing snow.
“Even surfaces plowed will quickly be covered again,” she said.
Snow leads to dozens of crashes
January 12, 2012 10:31 PM
Police responded to dozens of crashes Thursday as drivers struggled with the area’s first significant snowfall of the winter.
At least one car wreck, in Oswego, was fatal. A 51-year-old woman died about 2:30 p.m. Thursday when her van crossed into oncoming traffic and hit a semitrailer truck.
Illinois state police in Chicago were at scenes of 16 crashes as of 10 p.m. and had two more they had yet to reach. It was unclear how many they responded to since the storm began.
None of the wrecks was serious, police said, mostly involving cars that wound up in ditches or against barrier walls.
State police in a district covering collar counties south of Chicago responded to 35 crashes since 11 a.m. on Thursday, police said.
One of those was a jackknifed truck in the northbound lanes of Interstate 57 near mile marker 328 that slowed traffic in the area since about 8:20 p.m.
As of 9:45 p.m., police were working to clear the scene. No injuries were reported.
In Chicago, police said no fatal crashes were reported.
Delays, snow continue at airports
January 12, 2012 08:55 PM
Both major Chicago airports experienced delays into Thursday night.
Airlines at Midway are reporting minor delays and at O'Hare delays are averaging about 45 minutes, according to the Chicago Aviation Department.
As of about 8:30 p.m., about 560 flights had been canceled at O'Hare and Midway airports. Southwest Airlines canceled more than 100 of the 140 flights canceled at Midway, and more than 420 inbound and outbound flights were canceled at O'Hare.
All flights at Midway between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. were canceled but service has since resumed.
City commute better than suburbs
January 12, 2012 07:31 PM
City dwellers appear to be experiencing only “moderate congestion’’ getting home tonight following the first major snowstorm of the year, according to city officials.
Weather-related traffic jams are “a little heavier” on the North Side like in the Lakeview neighborhood, according to Streets & Sanitation spokesman Peter Scales. But north Lake Shore Drive is “wide open’’ and motorists are able to drive nearly at the speed limit, he said.
“We’re still at 100%’’ with all the city’s 278 snow trucks clearing the main roads, which are wet but not icy, Scales said. They have not hit the side streets as of 7 p.m.
Scales said nothing “out of the ordinary’’ has occurred during today’s storm.
Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said by about 7 p.m. the department had responded to no emergencies specifically related to the snow.
Illinois Department of Transportation spokesman Guy Tridgell had a more dreary impression of the ride home.
“It’s an extra-long commute,’’ said Tridgell, who could not be more specific.
Despite wet road surfaces on highways in Cook County as of 5:30 p.m., “traffic is moving, but it’s moving slower,’’ said Illinois State Police District Chicago Master Sgt. Timothy Tippet.
Near Joliet, authorities responded to several multi-vehicles crashes, including one on I-80 near Houbolt Road, Illinois State Police Joliet District Master Sgt. Bill Fuentes said. The road has been reduced to one lane but motorists are “getting by,’’ he said as of 6:45 p.m.
“It’s taking longer for people to get home,’’ Fuentes confirmed. Motorists who are driving too fast are ending up in ditches on the side of the road, he said.
After a day of snow, a slushy and slick evening commute
January 12, 2012 05:22 PM
Evening commuters were hitting slushy, slick expressways and snow-covered side streets as they made their way home through Thursday's snowstorm, although trains are getting through with few problems.
“Right now we’re seeing the snow is starting to accumulate,’’ Guy Tridgell, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Transportation, said at 3:30 p.m.. “Expressways seem to be in a little better shape than the arterial streets and some of the suburban roads and the outlying areas.’’
The department's “full complement’’ of trucks and plows in the Chicago area -- 365 -- were deployed on the roads, he said.
“The challenge for us is the temperature continuing to drop because the melting power of salt diminishes and it’s not as effective,’’ Tridgell said. “People need to be aware that there are slick spots all over the system right now.’’
Motorists should be prepared for a “much longer’’ commute home, Tridgell said. He urged motorists to drive slower, increase their following distance and allow extra time.
On highways in Cook County patrolled by the Illinois state police, traffic was jammed up by the weather as of 3:30 p.m.
“Things are bad everywhere,’’ said Chicago District Trooper Michael Bobko. “We’ve had multiple crashes all over the place.’’
Bobko said there were no reports of any road closures, and none of the crashes were serious.
Near Joliet, the rush hour was also slow-going.
“All the roads, including I-80 and I-55, are snow-covered,’’ said Joliet District Master Sgt. Martez Malone. “We have a lot of cars in ditches.’’
Malone said there were no serious injuries and no roads were closed. “I would suggest that people slow down,’’ Malone said.
The toll roads were also experiencing problems, according to Tollway District Master Sgt. Thomas Gartner.
In north suburban Bannockburn, a semi collided with two other vehicles at about 1 p.m. on I-94 near Half Day Road and crews were “still dealing with it’’ at 3:30 p.m., Gartner said.
Road conditions are worsening the father west you go, according to Elgin District Master Sgt. Bob Huber.
“DeKalb County is worse than DuPage County," said Huber, who added that the roads were “wet and pretty slushy.’’ The shoulders are covered with snow but no serious accidents have been reported.
Huber said the state police have implemented an emergency snow plan. “If you are involved in a noninjury accident, people should exchange information and make a report at a later date,’’ he said.
The city has its full force of 278 snow fighting trucks out for the evening rush hour, according to a release from the Department of Streets & Sanitation.
“While all of the snowplows are working to clear the main arterial streets, falling snow and dropping temperatures can reduce visibility and make portions of the roadway slick at points,” said Department of Streets & Sanitation Commissioner Tom Byrne. “Motorists should drive with added caution during their evening commutes.”
The city has a new website focused entirely on snow: www.ChicagoShovels.org.
Metra is reporting no delays or cancellations because of the weather as of 5:15 p.m., according to spokeswoman Judy Pardonnet.
“Right now we’re just doing the regular snow emergency plan -- shoveling platforms, salting platforms, and inspecting the Metra Electric Line to check for ice buildup,’’ Pardonnet said.
The CTA hasn’t had any either, according to spokeswoman Lambrini Lukidis.
“It seems to be going well,’’ Lukidis said of this evening’s rush hour commute.
Southwest resuming operations at Midway
3:51 p.m. CST, January 12, 2012
The season's first major snowstorm has forced airlines to cancel more than 500 flights at O'Hare and Midway airports.
At Midway, Southwest Airlines canceled about 100 flights in the afternoon but planned to resume its full schedule at 6 p.m. Airlines have cancelled more than 125 flights at the airport but are reporting just minor delays.
At O’Hare, airlines canceled nearly 400 inbound and outbound flights and are reporting average delays of 20 minutes because of de-icing.
'We've surpassed what we had all season'
2:07 p.m. CST, January 12, 2012
While the worst of the snowstorm is yet to come, many parts of the Chicago area have already hit a milestone: They've seen more snow today than they had all season.
As much as 2.3 inches of snow have fallen in the south suburbs since the storm hit shortly after dawn. Rockford has already registered about 3 inches. The storm is expected to dump as much as 8 inches before leaving town Friday morning.
No updated figures were available from O'Hare International Airport, the city's official recording station. Until today, 1.9 inches of snow had been recorded for the season.
"It's amazing," said Richard Castro, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service. "It took just a day and we've surpassed what we had all season. It didn't take much."
Following are some accumulation figures as of 1:30 p.m.: Bartlett, 1.4 inches; Mendota, 2.5 inches; Arlington Heights, 1.6 inches; Montgomery, 1.7 inches; Schaumburg, 1.2 inches; Crest Hill, 2.3 inches; Harvard, 1.2 inches; Franklin Park, 1.5 inches; Palatine, 2 inches; St. Charles, 1.5 inches; Carol Stream, 1.6 inches; Ravenswood neighborhood on north side of Chicago. 1.2 inches; Matteson; 1.2 inches; Yorkville, 2.1 inches, Chicago Ridge, 2.5 inches; Elburn, 3.1 inches.
Flights canceled at Midway, O'Hare
11:44 a.m. CST, January 12, 2012
Hundreds of flights have been canceled at O'Hare and Midway airports as the Chicago area gets hits with it first major snowstorm.
At Midway, Southwest Airlines has canceled all flights in and out of the airport between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. today, according to the Chicago Aviation Department.
"This equates to approximately 100 flights, or 25 percent of total flights scheduled at Midway today," it said. "Other airlines at Midway have canceled flights as well."
At O’Hare, airlines have canceled more than 325 flights in and out of the airport. As of 11 a.m., airlines were reporting 20-minute delays for flights to and from the East Coast.
An inch of snow an hour during evening rush
11:29 a.m. CST, January 12, 2012
The National Weather Service has issued a winter warning storm warning, saying snow could accumulate an inch an hour just as the evening rush hour hits.
"Heavy snowfall rates of around 1 inch per hour may make it difficult for snow removal operations to keep up in some areas late this afternoon and early this evening," the weather service said in the warning.
While the forecast remains at 4 to 8 inches from the storm, the weather service said areas along the lakefront could get more. And travel in outlying areas could be dangerous because of high winds and plunging temperatures, it said.
Chicago sends out half its snow-fighting fleet
9:57 a.m. CST, January 12, 2012
As the leading edge of a slow-moving snowstorm reached downtown Chicago this morning, the city's Department of Streets and Sanitation put out half of its snow-fighting force — 184 trucks.
The city noted that residents for the first time can use a website to check exactly where those plows are at any one time. Click HERE to check.
No major delays at Chicago's airports -- yet
9:16 a.m. CST, January 12, 2012
Chicago's airports are running smoothly this morning as the season's first major snowstorm sweeps across the Midwest.
Very few cancellations and delays were being reported this morning, according to the Chicago Weather Center. But officials warn that airport operations will be affected later today as the snow begins to accumulate. A total of 4 to 8 inches is expected to fall by Friday morning.
As of 8:30 a.m., a steady light snow was falling west of the Tri-State tollway. The snow is expected to reach downtown Chicago by 10 a.m.
Snow is already blanketing the western two-thirds of Wisconsin (1-3 inches) , eastern Iowa (2-3 inches), and the western half of Illinois with 1 to 2 inches, the weather center reports.
An intensifying center of low pressure has moved into the western corner of Lake Erie this morning, with strengthening northwest winds on the backside of the storm all the way from Lake Superior south to the Ohio River Valley.
Worst of storm expected this evening
8:05 a.m. CST, January 12, 2012
The snow has arrived. Finally.
Brief snow showers were reported in Joliet and Oswego around 6:15 a.m. And isolated pockets of snow were reported over some west and southwest suburbs as of 7 a.m., according to the Chicago Weather Center.
A winter advisory goes into effect at 9 a.m. for the Chicago area, with the brunt of the storm expected around the evening rush. The National Weather Service says we could see 2 to 4 inches of snow through the late afternoon, and another 2 to 4 inches overnight, with high winds causing drifting and blowing snow and making driving hazardous.
A winter storm warning has been issued for Valparaiso and Porter County, where the National Weather Service says up to 10 inches of snow could fall. "Only travel in an emergency," it advised.
'Traveling will be absolutely treacherous'
7:01 a.m. CST, January 12, 2012
A major snow storm that promises to wreak havoc with the evening rush hour is headed for the Chicago area this morning.
By the time the storm moves on Friday morning, a predicted 4 to 8 inches of snow will have come down, with the highest totals along the lakefront--including Chicago--and northwest Indiana, the National Weather Service predicted.
"The snow is really going to pick up in the Chicago area this afternoon," said Gino Izzi, senior meteorologist for the weather service. "By this evening's rush hour, traveling will be absolutely treacherous."
As of 7 a.m., steady snow had reached a line from Rockford, to Dixon, LaSalle, Princeton and Peru. And a few flurries had begun to fall at the National Weather Service office in Romeoville.
A winter weather advisory remains in effect from 9 a.m. this morning to 9 a.m. Friday.
The first snow in the area should hit the western suburbs sometime between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. and the city itself from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the weather service said.
That should pretty much spare the morning rush hour.
But snow will be falling over the entire area by early afternoon, with the highest snowfall rates into the early evening.
By the evening rush hour, the snow problem will be compounded by northwest winds of 15 to 25 mph, with gusts to 35 mph. The snow also is likely to be what the weather service described as "fluffy." That means that blowing and drifting snow is likely to be of major concern, the weather service said.
Illinois State Police in the Kankakee area already have asked that motorists involved in non-injury accidents on interstates get off the roadway, exchange driver's license, insurance and vehicle registration information and report the accident later.
It also will get very cold. By early Friday morning, wind chills will be near or slightly below zero.
While the accumulation of snow is expected to end Friday morning, there is a chance of light snow again Saturday.