Mother Nature Gives Chicago Biggest Snowfall in Two Years

Snow totals ranging from five to 11 inches seen throughout region

By Andy Avalos, Alicia Roman and Cheryl Scott
|  Wednesday, Mar 6, 2013  |  Updated 6:47 PM CDT
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Editors' Picks: Snow Creations

Jennie Eraci of Park Ridge, Ill., snapped this photo of her neighbor during the snow storm on March 5, 2013.

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The Wednesday morning commute may be a bit slushy but it shouldn't be anything like what commuters had to deal with an evening earlier.

Temperatures into the morning hours should remain right below freezing, making the salt that's been spread on the roadways highly effective against the day-long snowfall.

The mix of rain, sleet and snow began pelting the outer edges of the Chicago region just before 6 a.m., according to the National Weather Service. By 10:30 a.m., five inches of snow had fallen in Rockford, while suburbs closer to the city had about two inches of accumulation.

Preliminary snow totals:

  • Lemont 7.5"
  • Loves Park 11"
  • Mokena 7.9"
  • Chicago Ridge 7.5"
  • Rockford Airport 9.6"
  • O'Hare International 9.2"
  • Romeoville 7.7"

Those totals made this most recent storm the snowiest so far of the season and the biggest winter storm to hit the area since the blizzard of Feb. 1 and 2 of 2011.

The snowfall had a big impact at the airports, where more than 1,100 flights had been canceled at O’Hare and Midway as of 1:30 p.m., according to the city’s Department of Aviation.

Crews from transportation agencies throughout the area were out with their fleets, trying to make roads as passable as possible for commuters.

"We are prepared as a city to deal with this snow," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at a news conference, "We have all the resources of the city available to make sure that our residents are safe, secure, but also able, with time and planning, to get where they need to go."

Commuters taking public transit -- especially those who use the Chicago Transit Authority's Brown and Purple lines, already affected by the reconstruction project on the Wells Street Bridge -- were urged to allow plenty of time for travel.

Illinois State Police said they handled more than 150 calls for help from motorists during the last winter storm.

Chicago learned some valuable lessons from the blizzard of 2011, including giving cars an escape route on Lake Shore Drive. Crews opened up the median in certain spots to prevent a repeat of when hundreds were stranded two years ago. Those safety measures weren't ultimately needed as crews were able to keep the drive clear.

ComEd officials made preparations to ensure crews were on hand to take calls and respond to outages. Customers should call 1-800-EDISON1 immediately if they experience an outage.

Some lake enhanced snow is possible Wednesday as winds blow from the north, possibly coating the area with another inch or two before the sun comes out.

The most snow we’ve seen so far this winter was 5.4 inches measured at O’Hare on Feb. 26-27, the weather service said. That storm blanketed north suburban Antioch with 12.1 inches of snow.

For those yearning for spring, warmer weather is not too far off, according to the weather service. The temperature is expected to reach 41 by Friday and 44 on Saturday, promising a slushy weekend.

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