Chicago area braces for winter storm

January 7, 2010 3:13:55 AM PST
Chicagoland is under a winter storm warning, and the area could get more than half a foot of snow.The major snow storm expected Thursday was already creating problems in the Midwest and plains on Wednesday evening. At least one interstate was shut down and another was the scene of a big pile up.

The winter storm warning had snow fighting crews on alert Wednesday night. And officials warned Thursday afternoon's commute could be a mess.

The snow storm blasted its way to Chicago creating dangerous driving conditions along the way.

In South Dakota, authorities shut down Interstate 90 near Rapid City, which is located in the western part of the state.

Then it was on to Council Bluffs, Iowa, just across the border from Omaha, Nebraska. Semi-trucks jackknifed, causing a pile-up on Interstate 80. State troopers said drivers were going too fast on the icy roadways.

The storm was headed to Illinois Wednesday night.

"We're ready for this. This is what we do. It's our responsibility to make sure the state-owned roadways are clear and as passable as possible for motorists' use," said Marisa Kollias, Illinois Department of Transporation spokesperson.

IDOT will tackle state roadways.

In Chicago, the Department of Streets and Sanitation already announced Wednesday that the Snow Command Center will use all tools available - like monitoring ground sensors and closely watching nearly 1,000 cameras positioned throughout the city.

The department's commissioner also warned drivers to pay close attention to the winter parking restrictions now in effect or risk getting your car towed.

"The easiest way to avoid either restriction is to obey the signs posted and secure a safe parking spot for your vehicles," said Tom Byrne, Chicago Dept. of Streets & Sanitation.

At the airports, airlines like United and American, may face cancellations and delays. Before the storm arrived, they encouraged travelers to consider the weather in the Midwest and, perhaps, rebook their flights without paying extra fees or penalties.