As several inches of snow fell in the Chicago area overnight, motorists are urged to stay off the roads as much as possible on Wednesday as heavier wet snow is expected to impact the morning commute.
According to the National Weather Service, Wednesday’s heaviest snowfall is expected during the morning commute, with an inch to an inch and a half of snow falling per hour during the worst part of the winter storm.
The snow is expected to gradually ease from west to east, although roads will continue to be slippery and “covered in snow” in the meantime, the National Weather Service noted.
“I strongly encourage you to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary,” Gov. JB Pritzker said Tuesday. “Across the state, we have over 1,800 trucks and plows ready to go.”
The governor issued a disaster declaration, clearing the way for the National Guard to provide assistance during the storm.
The Illinois Department of Transportation tweeted a map of state roads Wednesday morning, noting that many were covered in ice or snow.
As of 6 a.m. Wednesday, Illinois State Police said westbound Interstate 74 was closed at mp 158 due to “multiple accidents and unsafe conditions.” Traffic had been rerouted on US Route 150.
Southbound I-55 was also closed at mp 178 due to crashes, the ISP added, and is expected to take several hours.
In Chicago, the city’s Streets and Sanitation Department deployed its fleet of more than 200 salt spreaders and plows to help keep arteries, as well as DuSable Lake Shore Drive, as clear as possible.
The Illinois Tollway is also hiring its entire fleet of snow removal vehicles and salt spreaders, officials say.
Even as the plows fight to keep the roads clear, residents are still urged to postpone unnecessary travel or use public transport when possible.
The Chicago Transit Authority said it is working to keep the train tracks clear and will continue to deploy resources to facilitate the Wednesday morning commute.
The CTA announced that most train services will continue to operate in winter weather on Wednesday, except for some signaling issues on the Green Line.
Metra said no changes were made due to weather conditions and the schedules would remain in effect. However, Metra noted that some train lines may experience delays.
By 6 a.m. Wednesday morning, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport had canceled 299 flights, along with 78 canceled flights at Midway, according to the latest data. Most delays were less than 15 minutes.
Residents who absolutely must travel are invited to respect the following advice:
- If you are involved in an accident or breakdown, stay inside your vehicle if possible. Activate the hazard warning lights and try to move to the side of the road if possible.
- Make sure your gas tank is full before setting off for your destination.
- Keep a fully charged cell phone, warm clothes, blankets, food, water, and a first aid kit in your vehicle, along with extra windshield washer fluid and an ice scraper.
- Inform friends and relatives of your travel schedule and the route you intend to take.
The snow is expected to largely ease or even stop by Wednesday evening, but far southern suburbs and parts of northwestern Indiana could see more snow Thursday, which could further complicate another morning ride.