More than 500 flights were canceled at Chicago airports Monday morning as the city woke up to the first significant snowfall in nearly three months.
By 2 p.m., at least 443 flights were canceled at O’Hare International Airport, with an additional 125 cancellations reported at Midway Airport. Delays were less than 15 minutes at both airports.
Nationwide, more than 1,600 flights had been preemptively canceled through Tuesday as a potentially historic March blizzard takes aim at the Northeast.
Delta, American and United are all waving rebooking fees for O’Hare, Mid Atlantic and Northeast airports during the storm days.
Boston, New York City, Philadelphia and Baltimore are all expecting more than 12 inches — higher than previous winter storms in recent months. Washington, D.C., is expected to see 8 to 12 inches, potentially a hard hit to the city's cherry blossom blooms.
According to The Weather Channel, only 36 winter storms since 1869 have produced a foot or more of snow in New York, but only four happened in March — most recently March 3-4, 1960.
In Chicago, the Department of Streets and Sanitation deployed nearly 350 snow plows and salt spreaders as the winter snow system began to move through the area late Sunday night.
Trucks will salt and plow main streets, bridges, overpasses, and hills first, city officials said. Once the snow stops and main streets are cleared, the plows will move to residential streets if needed.
A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for the entire metro Chicago area and parts of Northwest Indiana until 1 p.m. Monday. A Winter Weather Advisory means periods of snow will cause primarily travel difficulties. The National Weather Service urges commuters to be prepared for snow covered roads and limited visibilities.
A Lake Effect Snow Warning was issued for Cook, DuPage and Lake counties from 7 p.m. Monday to 4 p.m. Tuesday, with the potential for heavy lake effect snow that could produce amounts higher than 6 inches in some areas.
Snow is expected to continue through the morning rush before tapering off to occasional light snow or flurries Monday afternoon, with 2 to 4 inches of accumulation possible.
The lake effect snow system will develop Monday evening and continue overnight into Tuesday, likely peaking in intensity after midnight through mid to late morning.
Typically, lake effect bands are only 10 to 15 miles wide, but can produce very heavy snow, sometimes in excess of 2 inches per hour, according to the National Weather Service.
Because of the nature of lake effect snow bands, accumulations and conditions can vary drastically over relatively short distances, though some locations in the warning areas could experience anywhere from 5 to 9 inches or more from Monday night into Tuesday, according to the NWS.