Three to six inches of snow could make for hazardous travel during the Wednesday morning commute, ABC7 Meteorologist Jerry Taft said. Snow overspread the Chicago area Tuesday evening, though the most intense snow will fall overnight.
The Winter Weather Advisory from 3 p.m. Tuesday to noon CST Wednesday impacts La Salle, Kendall, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee in Illinois and Lake and Porter counties in Indiana. A Winter Weather Advisory from 6 p.m. to 12 p.m. CST for Lake, Ogle, Lee, De Kalb, Kane Cook and DuPage counties in Illinois. A Winter Storm Warning is in effect until 12 p.m. CST Wednesday for Benton, Jasper and Newton counties in Indiana, where there may be some lake enhancement of snowfall rates.
Storm cancels flights, could delay Metra trains
O'Hare Airport preemptively cancelled more than 380 flights on Tuesday, with average delays of 15 minutes. Midway Airport also reported more than 40 flights cancelled and flights running 20 minutes behind schedule.
Metra is anticipating delays on Wednesday due to the snow storm. Officials say passengers could experience service disruptions because its trains may have to follow temperature-related speed restrictions, so they're asking riders to plan for extra travel time.
IDOT, INDOT ready for snow removal
Chicago's Department of Streets and Sanitation deployed 200 snow plows and salt spreaders Tuesday night, with a focus on salting and plowing main streets and Lake Shore Drive.
The Illinois Department of Transportation said 1,755 snowplows are ready to remove snow and ice, and the Illinois Tollway deployed its full fleet of 182 snowplows on Tuesday afternoon. The Illinois State Police are asking motorists to be careful on the road. The Tollway also has cancelled all temporary lane closures until 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Indiana State Police have been snapping photos of crashes this week and sharing them with the public as a reminder to stay off snowy roads. Officials stress that each snow route takes two to three hours to clear, and as long as snow is falling, roads can be dangerous.
"We've had situations where people have thought that because they were in a four-wheel drive vehicle that they're invincible. They thought they could still travel and manage through the snow conditions or icy conditions and they quickly see that even those vehicles are not invincible in those types of circumstances," Indiana State Police Lt. Jerry Williams said.
In Gary, the mayor is asking residents to park their vehicles on just one side of the street-- the west or north side -- to facilitate plowing.
"We want to make it easier for not only our residents to pass through the streets but school buses to travel through," said Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson.
Illinois National Guard called to assist IDOT
We have had so much snow that members of the Illinois National Guard have been used to help maintain state snow plows and salt trucks. However, the union representing IDOT mechanics says more workers need to be hired. They have 440 trucks covering 370 routes.
"We can't call in the military every time we have a snow storm," said Aviva Bowen, Illinois Federation of Public Employees.
"The Illinois National Guard personnel was used to assist during a historic winter storm. Utilizing National Guard personnel is not a common occurrence," said Jae Miller, IDOT spokesperson.
But there is a silver lining to this snowy, cold winter. AAA found gas prices in some counties are down in our area compared to this time last year. It seems the bad weather impacts our costs at the pump.
"It keeps people off the roads, and that will actually help keep prices lower. It decreases demand. Extreme weather can have an extreme effect on gas prices," said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst, GasBuddy.com.