Chicago Weather: Winter storm warning in effect for much of Chicago

January 31, 2014 (CHICAGO)

The Winter Storm Warning is in effect until 6 p.m. CST Saturday for McHenry, Lake, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, Kane, DuPage, Cook, LaSalle, Kendall, Grundy and Will counties, according to the National Weather Service.

Light snow began falling southwest of Chicago on Friday afternoon and will spread throughout the area Friday night. It will increase in intensity after midnight, and heavy snow is possible in the mid-to-late morning hours Saturday. One to three inches of accumulation is expected by dawn on Saturday morning, and four to eight inches of snow is possible by Saturday evening, ABC7 Meteorologist Jerry Taft said. Icy conditions are also expected south of I-80.

The system will begin in the west and southwest and hit downtown. At its heaviest, one to two inches of snow could fall per hour, creating low visibility and slick roads.

Air travelers will probably face delays and cancellations on Saturday, but Chicago's Department of Aviation said operations were normal Friday night at O'Hare and Midway airports. American Airlines is offering some customers affected by the winter storm a chance to change their flight free of charge.

Illinois and Indiana officials are urging drivers to take it slow and be prepared. The Illinois Tollway said Friday night it is mobilizing its full fleet of 182 snowplows beginning overnight on Friday.

Chicago crews are preparing for another battle to keep roads clear. On Friday morning, salt piles at Grand Avenue and Rockwell were stacked and loaded on city trucks in an attempt to stay ahead of the weekend snowfall.

If you live in some Chicago suburbs, you may need to pack some patience as you wait for your side streets to get cleared. Several communities are running short on salt and are looking for ways to make their salt supplies last. Some communities are adding sand to try to strech out their supply.

The plow trucks are loaded and ready to go in Homewood. They're just hoping the salt they have on hand will be enough to last until they can get more.

What they have left in their storage facility -- about 250 tons -- is all they have left from their state contract. Public works director John Schaefer was able to order more from Canada which should arrive in about a week, but at a much higher price.

It's the same story in most area communities. The demand for salt means no one is able to get extra supplies from the state program, and the price on the open market is rising by the day.

In Naperville they will try to conserve and make their remaining supply last.

"We will be the main roads and plowing every road in Naperville. But we will begin to mix our salt with sand in order to stretch as far as we can in the month of February," said Linda LaClouche, Naperville communications manager.

Experts say we are likely in for at least 6 to 8 more snow storms before this winter is finally over, which means the demand and the price for salt is likely to increase.

The long harsh winter is starting to take its toll on just about everyone.

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