Winter Storm Watch: Freezing rain headed to Chicago area

January 27, 2013 10:25:53 AM PST
Chicago hasn't seen a major snowstorm yet this season, but that may change as the National Weather Service issues a winter weather watch which remains in effect from Sunday morning through Sunday night.

Forecasters have issued the warning for all of northeastern Illinois and northwest Indiana.

In Cook County the advisory will be in effect from 11:00 a.m. Sunday until 4:00 p.m. The advisory will last until 7:00 p.m. in Lake and McHenry counties.

They say that the Chicago area could be left with more than a quarter inch of ice glazed onto trees, power lines and sidewalks.

The ice may weigh down tree limbs and power lines, and the increasing winds could result in power outages, the alert said. Any liquid precipitation will likely freeze on contact, which may create dangerous travel conditions.

There will be plenty of ice but not enough to qualify as an ice storm.

The Illinois Department of Transportation is warning drivers to stay off the roads Sunday afternoon, if possible.

IDOT's Mike Claffey says snow plows are in place to prevent slippery roadways in case there is freezing rain.

"Sunday afternoon could be very messy conditions on the roadway," IDOT spokesperson Mike Claffey said. "We'll be salting. We'll have a full complement of trucks, more than 360 trucks out there with salt."

Chicago Streets and Sanitation workers are on standby, with 284 trucks and 270,000 tons of salt.

A city spokesperson says many trucks are preloaded. However, both agencies say they will not pre-salt the roads.

ComEd has also increased staff for Sunday. Employees have been notified that they could get called in depending on the severity of the storm.

The weather watch will be lifted if the temperature rises above freezing Sunday night.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.