Frigid Temps & Wind Replace Light Snow, Rain

Temperatures reached only to the upper 20s by Friday afternoon

By Staff Report
|  Friday, Dec 21, 2012  |  Updated 4:44 PM CDT
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    The weather system that ended up being not much of a snow-maker moved eastward overnight, leaving behind cold and extremely windy conditions.

    In the wake of the rain and the light snow, sustained winds out of the north and west reached around 30 mph, with stronger gusts greater than 40 mph.

    And then there was the cold. Temperatures fell into the low- to mid-20s Friday morning and rose only to the mid- and upper-20s with wind chills in the teens.

    That meant some slick roadways for the Friday morning commute. Drivers were urged to give themselves extra time and use caution.

    Nearly 200 plows were deployed Thursday evening onto Chicago's main routes and Lake Shore Drive as the weather system that was predicted to dump several inches of snow crept toward the city.

    In the end Midway received only .3 inches

    The weather in the city Thursday afternoon was all rain, with about an inch-and-a-half coming down by 5 p.m. That meant a bit of a reprieve for the afternoon commute. Though traffic times were longer than normal, they weren't as bad as they could have been had snow been falling on the expressways.

    Areas to the north and west got a bit of the white stuff. Snowfall was heavy in Rockford, with about one inch on the ground by 3 p.m.

    Back in the city, temperatures remained too warm for much accumulation, amounting to little more than wet pavement in most areas.

    Still, the storm brought the area its first measurable snowfall in nearly 300 days, and a Winter Storm Warning remained in effect for the entire metro area and Northwest Indiana until 3 a.m. Friday, with a Blizzard Warning toward the west.

    The weather had a big affect on air travel. Southwest Airlines canceled all outgoing flights at Midway International Airport after 4:30 p.m., and hundreds more were either canceled or delayed there and at O'Hare International Airport.

    By Friday morning, Department of Aviation spokeswoman Karen Pride said flights were moving again and airlines were getting back on track.

    Nearly 2.4 million passengers were expected to fly through O'Hare and Midway airports Friday through Jan. 2, Pride said. About 200,000 will fly through O'Hare along on Friday, the busiest day.

    Chicago's new Streets and Sanitation commissioner admitted Wednesday to having a few butterflies with the advancing storm, but said his team is ready to tackle whatever Mother Nature dished out.

    "This is taking place as they're going home from work. We're going to be on the streets moving our plows at the same time that they're trying to get home. It's important that they drive safely," Commissioner Charles Williams told reporters.

    Taking no chances, Chicagoans made a big run on snow shovels and salt. The Home Depot in Lincoln Park sold 50 shovels by 1 p.m. Wednesday.

    "It's Chicago, anything can happen," resident Louis Collazo said. "I'm ready for it, bring it on."

    "I want to make sure I'm prepared," Kevin Goodenough said after buying his shovel. "I'm kind of doubting it's gonna hit us, but if it does, it's gonna be a hard one."

    A large pile of salt at Grand & Rockwell (Photo: George Mycyk)

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