Chicago weather: Winter Storm Warning issued for city, suburbs

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Heavy snow and fierce winds will create blizzard-like conditions across parts of the Chicago area on Wednesday. (WLS)

Heavy snow and fierce winds will create blizzard-like conditions across parts of the Chicago area and northwest Indiana on Wednesday.

A Winter Storm Warning has been issued for the following counties:
- Kankakee, Iroquois (IL) and Ford, Newton, Jasper, Benton (IN) counties from 6 a.m. Wednesday until 4 a.m. Thursday
- Cook, Will (IL) and Lake, Porter (IN) counties from 9 a.m. Wednesday until 4 a.m. Thursday

SCHOOL CLOSINGS: View the latest Chicago-area school closings

Heavy, wet snow is expected to begin falling across the eastern half of the Chicago area and northwest Indiana early Wednesday morning, possibly beginning as a rain-snow mix, ABC7 Meteorologist Jerry Taft said.

Taft said that anywhere from 2 to 8 inches of snow is likely across the warned areas, with the highest amounts in southeastern Cook, Will and Kankakee counties and northwest Indiana.

However, snowfall totals could vary widely over short distances with some areas within the warning potentially seeing much less snowfall.

"We are expecting the snow to begin early tomorrow - a narrow band of very heavy snow across portions of Illinois and northwest Indiana," Taft said.

Taft said strong northerly winds of 40 to 45 mph are also expected, which could create hazardous driving conditions where heavy snow is falling.

WATCH: ABC7 First Alert Weather Forecast

The high winds will whip up snow - particularly during the Wednesday evening commute - making travel treacherous and bringing visibility to near zero in some places.

The Indiana Toll Road has already announced a travel ban starting Wednesday for triple tractor trailers and other high profile haulers.

On Tuesday evening, the City of Chicago announced its plan to deal with the winter storm.

"Our department is certainly prepared for this snow event. We're anticipating anywhere from 1 to 7 inches of snow depending on where you are in the city. We will begin this program with about 140 trucks on the street tomorrow morning, but we'll have our full fleet of almost 300 trucks on the street about two hours before rush hour," said Cmsr. Charles Williams, Chicago Dept. of Streets and Sanitation.

In suburban Orland Park, more than two dozen salt trucks are ready to roll in the morning.

"We're not even close to using our average amount of salt. This year I think we've used about 2,000 tons. On an average year we use about 4,500 tons," said John Ingram, Orland Park Public Works.

But the snow and fierce winds will be a challenge for crews, who are ready for an intense few nights.

"It'll be windy, so as we're plowing that wind could possibly blow that snow back on the street," Williams said.

The storm is also expected to impact travelers at Chicago's airports. United Airlines said it will waive fees if travelers would like to change their plans.

As the winter storm bears down on the Chicago area, ABC7 Eyewitness News will begin at 4 a.m. Wednesday morning to help you prepare for your day.
Related Topics:
weatherweathersnow stormCook CountyWill CountyKankakee CountyIndiana
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