Chicago Area Prepares as Lake Effect Snow Descends

The Chicago area was preparing Monday night as lake effect snow blanketed some cities and villages throughout the region.

In Chicago, the Department of Streets and Sanitation deployed 287 snow plows to handle the overnight accumulation.

The plows, the city says, will focus on salting and plowing arterial routes and then move on to neighborhood streets if necessary.

The city urges drivers to be “cautious and patient” when driving during snowy and inclement weather—and to be mindful of plows on city streets.

In Waukegan, where snow began accumulating shortly before 10 p.m., residents spent the day digging out from Monday morning’s snow, which piled to about 5 inches.

The city of Waukegan was preparing, like much of the Chicago area Monday night, for impending lake effect snow. Trina Orlando reports.

The city’s public works director, Tom Hagerty, said a full fleet of trucks were ready to hut the road. He also said the biggest concern with lake effect snow is the unknown.

“You know, whether it’s going to be an inch or 12 inches, a few of us aren’t going to get a whole lot of sleep tonight,” he said.

Public works crews will continues to monitor the weather as it moves in and will have crews working overnight.

Snowfall will come in series of waves over the course of the next couple of days, models show.

The first round of steady snowfall began late Sunday into Monday morning, bringing 2 to 5 inches of accumulation to many parts of Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. It marked the first time the area saw more than 1 inch of accumulation since Dec. 17, nearly three months ago.

After tapering to occasional light snow or flurries in the afternoon, a steadier, heavier lake effect snow system will kick in Monday evening and continue through the day Tuesday.

Cook, Lake, and DuPage counties will be under a Lake Effect Snow Warning issued by the National Weather Service that begins at 7 p.m. Monday and remains in effect until 4 p.m. Tuesday. A Lake Effect Snow Warning means significant amounts of lake-effect snow is expected to make travel very hazardous or near impossible.

Lake-effect snow showers typically align themselves in bands – 10 to 15 miles wide – that can produce very heavy snow, at times intense enough to dump several inches per hour for several hours.

Because of the nature of lake-effect snow bands, conditions will vary drastically depending on location, with visibilities that can drop to zero in just minutes, the National Weather Service warned.

Drivers should be prepared for periods of intense snow, sleet, or freezing rain with visibilities so low in some spots that it will be extremely dangerous to travel. During these times, travel is “strongly discouraged,” the NWS warned. If you must travel, commuters are urged to keep an extra flashlight, food, and water on hand in case of an emergency.

Some locations could experience 5 to 9 inches of additional snowfall from the lake effect Monday night into Tuesday afternoon.

As the snow continues to accumulate, Tuesday will be windy and cold, with highs in the mid to upper 20s, and wind gusting upwards of 25 mph.

Wednesday will be cloudy with some early lingering lake-effect snow, mainly in Northwest Indiana, before skies turn partly sunny. The day will be breezy and cold, with afternoon highs in the upper 20s to low 30s. Mostly sunny and chilly conditions remain Thursday, before the return of more winter weather.

Although Friday will be warmer, with highs in the mid 40s, more snow will make its return.

A wintry mix of light snow and rain is expected to come down across the Chicago area, before transitioning into rain showers throughout the day.

The weekend will bring some light snow early Saturday morning, but then clouds break for sunshine and a seasonably chilly day, with highs in the mid 40s.

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