The day began with a very intense band of snow draped according northern Cook County, according to ABC7 Meteorologist Cheryl Scott.
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The highest snow totals are expected in Chicago and Cook County, as well as areas along Lake Michigan, Scott said. Many areas had already seen 4 to 6 inches fall by mid-afternoon Monday.
The heaviest snow was forecast to fall between 6 p.m. and midnight as a winter storm system coming from Texas spread into the area Monday evening.
As of 10 p.m., Valparaiso had picked up 13.3 inches of snow, followed by Midway with 11.9 inches, Oak Park with 11 inches, Harwood Heights with 8.8 inches and 8.5 inches in Oak Lawn.
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From midnight through Tuesday morning, the system snow will start to taper off but lake effect snow will continue. Finally, the lake effect snow will begin to end gradually between 9 a.m. and noon Tuesday.
A Winter Storm Warning continues until 12 p.m. Tuesday for Cook and Lake (IL) counties. Other area advisories and warnings end at 9 a.m. Wind chills will remain below zero all day Monday.
Heavy snow, bitter cold create dangerous driving conditions
Heavy snow, gusty winds and the bitter cold temperatures created dangerous driving conditions on surface streets and interstates alike.
Illinois State Police said that as of 8:15 p.m. Monday, they'd responded to 135 different crashes across the Chicago area and helped about 60 drivers since midnight.
"The biggest concern was when it started snowing heavy and everyone was moving real slow, I couldn't keep the snow off my windshield," driver Steve Martin said.
The City of Chicago deployed more than 300 snow vehicles and have asked drivers to slow down in the treacherous conditions. And with all the snow we've had recently, the city said it does have plans in place, if needed, to dump that snow in designated areas to get those piles out of the neighborhoods.
"The main focus will be on arterial streets, so those of you who are on residential streets, just please be patient," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said. "This is an all-hands-on-deck moment, and we are ready to make sure that our city continues to function even in this extreme weather circumstance."
The snow fell so intensely, all plows could really do is make way for more snow.
"We've got over 3 feet of snow and when it comes down in bunches, it makes it very difficult," said Doug Halverson, a plow operator with Arctic Snow and Ice.
White-out conditions reported along Chicago's lakefront
In Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood, the wind whipped off the lake along Sheridan Road, creating intense blowing snow conditions.
A few blocks west of the lake, it's a completely different story: the winds are much calmer and there's hardly any snow. The snow caught some off guard.
"I just came out from the 'burbs, and the 'burbs there was nothing," said Courtney Podczerwinski. "And then you come down here by the lake, and it's completely nuts."
Gas line fire shoots flames into sky in Highland Park
The lake effect snow band dropped several inches of snow along Chicago's North Shore Monday afternoon. By 6 p.m., Evanston reported 8 inches of snow had fallen. At one point, Wilmette saw 2.6 inches of snow fall in one hour.
In Highland Park, flames shot into the sky on Green Bay Road where the city said a contractor ripped open the gas line with a Bobcat. Highland Park officials said ComEd is working with North Shore Gas to repair the line.
Evanston blared its tornado sirens to warn people to get their cars off main roads for a snow route parking ban, and Niles residents received a voicemail and text message warning people the worst of the storm was coming.
Lake effect snow piles up in Northwest Indiana
Heavy snow also hit northwest Indiana, where white-out conditions were observed at Marquette Park Beach in Gary.
The Indiana Department of Transportation deployed 1,100 plow trucks on the roadways Monday night.
Gary Public Schools students have been told to stay home Tuesday. It was supposed to be their first day back in the classroom since last March - but they'll now have to wait until Thursday.
Several Cook County vaccination sites will be closed Tuesday, Feb. 16, due to the winter storm, officials said. Vaccinations will continue at Stroger Hospital, Provident Hospital and the Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center, but all other locations, including large-scale sites, will be closed.
Officials said anyone who is already scheduled for an appointment will be contacted and rescheduled for another appointment this week.
Mobile COVID-19 testing sites were closed Monday due to extreme cold; however, community based testing sites remained open.
According to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office, there have been more than half a dozen hypothermia-related deaths so far this winter season. Frostbite and weather-related injuries are also climbing.
To locate a warming center nearby, residents can call city services at 311 or visit 311.chicago.gov.
The city also has dozens of other locations where people can seek shelter during the day, including at the Chicago Cultural Center, public libraries, Park District locations and local police departments
The city is also asking people to shovel and salt in front of their homes and businesses and to check on neighbors. The city also urged people not to shovel snow off rooftops, as it is a great way to get hurt. Officials say if your home is heated properly, some of that snow will melt.
Fire officials also remind people to make sure their smoke detectors are working -- citing a recent rash of fatal fires and offering a reminder not to use stoves for heat and to keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything combustible.