Several Illinois agencies warned about extremely hazardous travel Monday afternoon as a major snowstorm brought "near whiteout conditions" to the greater Chicago area.
The National Weather Service cautioned the heaviest snow will fall between the late afternoon and early evening hours, bringing total accumulations between 6 to 12 inches, along with blowing and drifting snow formed by heavy winds.
The Illinois Department of Transportation reported just before noon that several roadways were already covered in snow and ice "with high winds blowing snow around."
The NWS noted the worst road conditions, which are expected Monday afternoon through Tuesday morning, will impact commutes both to and from work.
Drivers are urged to postponed unnecessary travel statewide, according to the Illinois State Police, but those who must travel are advised to allow for additional time to reach their destination.
"Remember, speed limits are set for clear conditions," ISP Director Brendan Kelly said in a news release. "Drive the speed limit if it is safe to do so. And please watch out for emergency responders and highway maintainers who are doing their best to keep the roadways safe.”
IDOT also offered the following tips for drivers to stay safe in the treacherous conditions:
• Take it slow, especially when approaching intersections, ramps, bridges and shaded areas that are prone to icing.
• Make sure your gas tank is full.
• Keep a cell phone, warm clothes, blankets, food, water, a first-aid kit, washer fluid and an ice scraper in your vehicle.
• Check the forecast and make sure someone is aware of your route and schedule.
• Carry a cellphone and dial *999 in the Chicago area for assistance in case of emergency.
• Reminder: Using handheld phones while driving is illegal in Illinois, unless it is an emergency situation.
• If you are involved in a crash or break down, remain inside your vehicle, which is your safest form of shelter. Exiting your vehicle into live traffic can have fatal consequences.
• Always wear a seat belt, whether you’re sitting in the front seat or back seat. It’s the law.