As of 9 p.m. on Wednesday, more than 635 flights out of O'Hare had been cancelled and delays averaged more than an hour. Midway reported weather-related delays of 30 minutes or more. A lake effect snow warning remains in effect until 3 p.m. on Thursday for Cook and Lake counties in Illinois, and Lake County in Indiana, where additional accumulations are expected overnight and on Thursday.
All across the city, folks were shoveling, brushing and muddling through the New Year's snowfall. The city's entire fleet of 287 snow-fighting vehicles were on the streets all day and night Wednesday, and private contractors were busy as well.
"Cold. Snowy. Surprised it's actually snowing this much because we haven't had snow like this in awhile," said Bulmaro Jacobo.
Many started the New Year by the lakefront, on foot, on bike, and even on skis. Getting around by car was no easy feat.
"The main streets are clear. The side streets are a little tricky right now, but staying on the main streets, trying to get where I'm going and get out this bad weather," said Jerard Burton, motorist.
Kelly Collier spent New Year's Eve in Chicago and was gassing up for a long drive to Pittsburgh.
"Tires are a little questionable. While we were on clear roads, we've been testing it out a little bit, hitting the brakes. A little nervous, a little nervous about it," said Collier.
Though most businesses in the Loop were closed, sidewalks were bustling with cleanup crews.
For snow removal contractor Israel Moreno, all the white stuff means green.
"Too much work. Too much snow. Too much cleanup. Everywhere," said Moreno.
Chicago Streets and Sanitation says it did hit some of the side streets Wednesday, but with the snow still falling, it's focused right now on the main roads. Officials are urging drivers to be patient behind the wheel.
Northern suburbs dig out from New Year's snowfall
The City of Evanston declared a Snow Emergency between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. for Thursday, January 2 and Friday, January 3, 2014 and a Snow Route Parking Ban for Thursday, January 2. In north suburban Gurnee, the snow kept coming down on Wednesday night.
"It keeps piling up, it does not stop. Started last night, long day. It's all right. I'm on vacation. This is what I get to do," said Gene Rados, Gurnee resident.
With at least a foot and counting on the ground, resident Doug Egan tried to find the positive as he shovels the driveway for the third time today.
"It's very light snow. It pushes through real easy and easy enough to lift and get in a six-foot pile," said Egan.
It's also been a long couple of days for the folks entrusted with clearing Warren Township's residential streets.
"It hasn't been terrible, except for the duration. We worked late last night, come in early today and worked late tonight and will come in early tomorrow, that don't give much time for sleep," said Jerry Rudd, highway commissioner in Warren Township.
Roads everywhere have been snow covered. Plows have been hard-pressed to keep up. On the Tri-State Tollway near Lake Forest, some motorists pulled over just to get a break from it.
"The roads are really bad. We're headed to Milwaukee from Chicago. It's pretty bad out there. Luckily we are in a four wheel drive and that helps a lot," said Dino Korjenic, motorist.
In places like Wadsworth and Beach Park just north of Waukegan, more than a half a foot had fallen by Wednesday afternoon, and the snow totals were expected to rise. Meanwhile, plenty of families were out enjoying the weather with their children, sledding in Highland Park.
"A lot of fun. I don't know how to describe it, it's just a lot of fun," said Sally Mallin.
"It's really steep and really fast and you get a lot of snow in your face," said Mari Radtke.
And in Skokie, Dwight Samuelson was digging out his driveway and sidewalk.
"First time I have used my snow blower this season. It helps but I still have to use the shovel to keep it clean," said Dwight Samuelson.
On the Edens, snowy pavement sent cars into ditches as roadside crews helped stranded drivers. The Illinois Department of Transportation had 375 trucks out salting and plowing, but drivers still had a tough ride on the roads.
"On a scale of 1 to 10 they're pretty bad, at least a 9 or 10 on the bad side," said John Piotrowicz.