Cook County Homeland Security is preparing for the worst this winter.
In response to preliminary forecasts predicting up to 58 inches of snow in the Chicago area, the county's Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management has ramped up plans to more efficiently handle the possible deluge.
“We take severe weather conditions very seriously,” said DHSEM executive director Michael Masters, “and are putting into place a robust operational plan designed to assist in reducing the potential impact on our townships and municipalities.”
The Blizzard of 2011 paralyzed Chicago and snowed in hundreds of cars on Lake Shore Drive.
The third-largest snowfall in the city's history cost Chicago and sister agencies $37.3 million, according to estimates released in March.
And in October AccuWeather.com's long-range report predicted as much snow -- if not more -- in coming months.
"People in Chicago are going to want to move after this winter," said long-range meteorologist Josh Nagelberg, noting Chicago in particular is expected to get the most snow and cold.
Cook County Homeland Security plans to do battle with an updated information-sharing hub between municipalities and townships, and a weather tool providing advance weather information.
First responders also now receive operational intelligence and breaking information, Masters said, and communications have been streamlined with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA); Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) and others.
"Our goals are to increase efficiency, and to build a strategic, goal-oriented and collaborative approach to homeland security and emergency management,” Masters said.
Last month, the Farmer’s Almanac predicted “clime and punishment” for many parts of the country, including lots of rain and snow in the Midwest.
Temperatures should feel close to the average this winter for the Chicago area, the Almanac predicted. That means a perfect environment for heavier-than-normal precipitation.