Widespread snow overnight coated the Chicago area with heavy precipitation, making Tuesday morning commute challenges a possibility.
There had been about 1 to 5 inches of snow across the region as of 4 a.m. Tuesday, ABC 7 Chicago meteorologist Tracy Butler said. More snow is expected throughout the afternoon, and wind was causing visibility issues.
Lake-effect snow will likely add more accumulation later Tuesday in Lake, Cook and DuPage counties.
The storm will likely produce 4 to 8 inches of snow total, Butler said.
SEE ALSO | Chicago Area School Closings
The snow covered hills in Evanston's Lovelace Park were a magnet for families anxious to get out of the house and test their toboggans.
"It's liberating," said Mike Bess, who was out with his sons. "We've been waiting for the snow to get out, and being in the house a lot during the pandemic, it's great to be out."
Even with strong gusts of wind whipping the flakes, Daniel Bloom and his son jumped at the chance to hit the small slopes.
"He has remote school, Zoom school, and he has a break in the middle of the day, so we want to try to get him outside, get the blood running a little bit," Bloom said.
Due to icy conditions, the Chicago Park District announced the lakefront trail is closed from North Avenue to Ohio Street until further notice. Barricades have been placed on site.
O'Hare Airport received 5.8 inches of snow. In the suburbs, Palatine had received 6.7 inches of snow, Evanston 6.1 inches of snow, Schaumburg 6.0 inches of snow while 5 inches of snow fell in Oak Park.
"It actually took me calling two guys to come shovel it out," said Lindsey Stucka in Palatine. "They couldn't make it so I rocked back and forth for like 20 minutes."
"They didn't plow the roads 'til way into today, so it was a pretty rough ride into work this morning," said Mark Dams, in Palatine.
"I'm just out cross-country skiing this morning," Kate Jones said in Evanston. "I just figured we had at least 4 inches of snow, and it was a good day to get outside. The waves are crazy; I didn't quite plan for the wind, but pretty fun!"
Aurora, Downers Grove, Riverwoods and Medinah had about 4 inches, while Park Forest only had 1.5 inches.
Some kids who did have snow days Tuesday took advantage in Downers Grove's Gilbert Park.
"Very exciting, like getting to do sledding and not school at all, and after this I'm probably just going to go home and relax because I don't have any homework," Patrick Schimmel said.
It's another day of remote learning for Olivia Howell. Just yesterday the south Elgin High school senior was finally able to return to in-person classes for the first time this school year. And now thanks to the snow, she's back to zoom.
"This is the first day ever I have begged to not have a snow day, so sad," said Howell.
The Elgin District U-46 Superintendent Tony Sanders said he dreaded closing school buildings today. With more than 60 percent of the district considered low-income it's a burden on parents and students.
"A snow day is an added level of trauma for some families who don't have access to food, heat or a safe place to go during the school day," said Sanders.
For some kids however, it was a chance to get in a little fun
A thick layer of fresh snow, some good friends and no school -- that's what dreams are made of for 11 year olds.
"It's very fun. You get to just come out here and have the whole day to ourselves and then you go home and have some warm hot chocolate and you play video games all day and it's really fun," Rory Neill said.
Downers Grove resident Kelli Kalata took a 5-mile walk, enjoying the sight of the homes and trees covered in a white blanket.
"I think it's fantastic. I think everyone needs to get out and just enjoy the day. It's a beautiful day; the weather is great," Kalata said.
Mark Bragen dusted off his snowblower to dig out his driveway.
"They were saying it's gonna be heavy snow, heart attack maker, but fortunately yeah, I mean, it's actually quite nice with the snowblower; it's easy," Bragen said.
Bob Wolkoff is also a recent convert to snowblowing over shoveling.
"I actually shoveled this morning without using this, and my neighbor was like, bring out the snowblower!" he said. "So I have not used it until today and, boy, it's great."
Kenny Buss got out his big shovel, saying he doesn't mind this kind of weather as long as it doesn't come too often.
"I think Chicago is just right because you know two, three months of this you can live with and the rest of the year is beautiful, you know, our summers aren't that bad," he said.
The heaviest snow is expected in Lake and Cook counties, just inland from Lake Michigan.
The snow will be wet and heavy, so it may be a good idea to shovel a couple times during the storm as snow accumulates.
A Winter Storm Warning was in effect until noon Tuesday for DeKalb, Grundy, Kane, Kendall and LaSalle counties and until 5 p.m. Tuesday for Cook, DuPage, Lake and Will counties.
A Lakeshore Flood Advisory was in effect along the Lake Michigan shoreline through noon on Tuesday. There is a small chance for some ice and freezing rain in those areas during the storm.
City snow plows, salt spreaders tackle arterial streets
Chicago's Department of Streets and Sanitation readied their fleet of salt spreaders earlier Monday as they geared up to tackle more than 9,400 lane miles of roadway with salt piles stationed throughout the city.
"Monitor your driving conditions. I think we've all become customary with not having as many vehicles on the road," said Rich Guidice, executive director of Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications. "We may have picked up some bad driving behaviors over the last year, year and a half and we want to make sure people are cognizant to leaving enough distance to the car in front of you, make sure your gas tank is full."
With its thousands of cameras fixed on major roadways, OEMC said it would pay specific attention to Lake Shore Drive in the overnight hours.
"We have 240 miles of city to keep an eye on, but Lake Shore Drive is something we will pay close attention to obviously because of its close proximity to the lake," Guidice said.
On the South Side at Interstate 94 and 111th Street, fire crews helped a woman whose car had careened into a ditch. Another car was towed from Lake Shore Drive, as crashes became pervasive Monday night into Tuesday morning.
As of about 10 a.m., Chicago snow plows were still working on keeping main roads clear.
Flight delays at O'Hare airport were minor early Tuesday, with about 20 cancellations. Midway also had minor delays and 17 cancellations.
Some travelers did have to sleep in terminals overnight because of the weather-related problems.
Local nonprofit My Block My Hood My City is calling up volunteers to help shovel snow for the elderly in their neighborhoods.
"The city is about to be overwhelmed by Mother Nature, so we want to step in and help," said Jahmal Cole, executive director of My Block My Hood My City.
The group was planning to meet at 64th and Vernon in the city's West Woodlawn neighborhood at noon Tuesday.
"We know seniors are, you know, some of them have neuropathy in their wrist, they have oxygen, saying they can't get out there and shovel by themselves," Cole said. "So our philosophy is: what's something simple you can do that'll make a positive impact on your block."
My Block My Hood My City plans to provide supplies for anyone who wants to volunteer. Given the amount of snow expected, it will take a community effort.
AAA is reminding people to slow down on the roads and pack an emergency road kit, even if you're only headed out a short distance.