Chicago Weather: Messy storm spreads sleet, freezing rain, snow across area

Icy conditions will keep roadways slick in the Chicago area before a major winter storm is expected to move into town Saturday evening.
December 22, 2013 7:13:13 AM PST
Icy conditions kept roadways slick in the Chicago area before a snowfall moved into town over the weekend.

The worst is expected to hit northwest of Chicago, where a Winter Storm Warning is in effect for McHenry and De Kalb counties until 10 a.m. Sunday. Total sleet and snow accumulations of 4-8" are expected north of a line from Dixon to Woodstock, according to the National Weather Service.

In far northwest suburban Woodstock, rain changed over to snow on Saturday night and began to accumulate on roads.

In Big Rock, freezing rain caused an SUV to flip over on its side earlier on Saturday. Near Elgin, the icy conditions caused some vehicles to skid off the road and into ditches, and left a glaze of ice on parked cars.

In northwest suburban Schaumburg on Saturday evening, salt trucks were already on the streets preparing for a mixed bag of wintry precipitation. The storm comes on a busy travel weekend as many people are getting ready to celebrate the holiday with family and friends.

"The past two winters in Chicago have been nothing at all. They have been warm and I said, this winter will be bad. I can tell already, the way it keeps coming and coming. Not like we're in a break or anything. So, it's pretty weird," said Brian Alvarado.

The City of Chicago deployed 75 salt spreaders to monitor road conditions and apply salt as conditions warrant on Saturday night. The Illinois Tollway mobilized its full fleet of 182 snowplows and offered winter driving tips.

Illinois Tollway winter weather driving tips:

  • Slow down and leave enough time to reach your destination.

  • Do not make sudden lane changes and always use your turn signal.

  • Don't follow too closely and increase your intervals between vehicles.

  • Reduce speed in cash lanes at toll plazas.
  • Remember to always wear your safety belt and ensure children under the age of 8 are securely restrained in child safety seats.

  • Don't text while driving. It's illegal.

  • Need Help? Dial *999. If your vehicle becomes disabled, park safely on the shoulder, raise your hood and remain in your vehicle. Dial *999 and assistance will be dispatched to your location.

Motorists are reminded to use caution, especially on bridges and overpasses, as icy conditions are expected across the area overnight.

Winter Weather Advisories in effect for Lake, Kane

Winter weather advisories from the National Weather Service for DuPage, Cook, LaSalle, Kendall, Grundy and Will Counties have been cancelled Saturday night after temperatures climbed to slightly above freezing and rain continued across the area. However, the possibility for small pockets of freezing drizzle remains overnight, the National Weather Service said.

Winter Weather Advisories for Lake and Kane counties remain in effect through 10 a.m. Sunday.

Saturday carries a 100 percent chance of precipitation, and the snow will continue through Sunday, the weather service said. The city and southern suburbs could also see lesser amounts of snow.

Meanwhile, the same storm could bring heavy rain to northwest Indiana. Forecasters warn small creeks and streams jammed with ice could flood there.

The winter weather is hitting us just as the busiest travel time of the year heats up, with about 4 million holiday travellers expected to pass through Chicago's two airports by Jan. 6, according to the city's Department of Aviation.

However, most people traveling for the holiday season will drive, with 4.9 million people in Illinois expected to dive 50 miles or more from home between Saturday and New Year's Day, the AAA travel club predicts.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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