Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a disaster declaration Tuesday afternoon ahead, activating the Illinois National Guard, ahead of an anticipated severe winter storm.
Approximately 130 members of the Illinois National Guard have been activated to ensure state resources are available to combat heavy snow, ice and "blizzard conditions" expected to hit over the next several days, a release said.
“I’m authorizing a disaster proclamation for Winter Storm Landon, effective immediately, to support local government disaster response and recovery operations wherever necessary. I want to assure county and local officials and everyone in the path of the storm that my administration will provide resources every step of the way,” said Pritzker. “On the ground, all state assets stand ready to assist. I encourage everyone to do what you can to stay safe: listen to local authorities to stay up to date with the latest conditions in your community and make sure your household has essentials.”
The Illinois Department of Transportation will deploy more than 1,800 trucks and equipment to plow and treat roads, as well as respond to any weather emergencies, officials said.
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The governor is expected to provide an update Tuesday at 2 p.m. from the IEMA State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield.
The storm headed for Illinois Tuesday evening could bring "extremely dangerous" and "life-threatening" travel conditions across the state, officials warned.
The system is expected to contain periods of heavy snow, rain, ice, high winds and bitter cold, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation, which could lead to whiteout conditions, making some roads "impassable."
Though Tuesday began unseasonably warm in the Chicago area, temperatures are expected to move into the low-to-mid 40s across the region around the noon hour.
That’s when the weather system is expected to arrive, bringing rain showers to the area in the early afternoon.
Showers are expected to continue until the air temperature causes the precipitation to switch from rain to snow, and from there, intense snow is expected to begin falling Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning.
La Salle, Grundy, DuPage, Kendall, as well as parts of Cook and Will counties will be under a winter storm warning from 8 p.m. Tuesday through 6 p.m. Wednesday, the National Weather Service announced, as 5 to 11 inches of snow is expected to accumulate across the area.
Kane, De Kalb and northern Cook counties are also under a winter weather advisory from 8 p.m. Tuesday until 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Kankakee County, along with Lake, Porter, Newton and Jasper counties in Indiana, will be under a winter storm warning starting at 10 p.m. Tuesday, and by Wednesday afternoon, that those areas could see up to 15 inches of snow accumulation. The warning in LaPorte County will start at midnight.
The heaviest snowfall will likely occur on Wednesday morning, with a snowfall rate of up to 1 inch per hour falling during that time. That will likely cause serious travel issues throughout the region, according to forecast models, and residents are urged to postpone unnecessary travel.
Another system could follow closely behind the initial system Wednesday and into Thursday, and if it does, another 3-to-6 inches of snow could fall in the areas currently under a winter storm warning, meaning that in all residents could see up between 10 and 20 inches of accumulation in less than 48 hours.
For Chicago and surrounding suburbs, more intense snow accumulations from the storm are likely to remain to the south, but another threat could emerge Wednesday afternoon, as lake-effect snow is possible. If snow bands develop, it could combine with the arriving weather system to drive accumulations upward in the area, and could lead to additional advisories or warnings from the National Weather Service.
For those who must travel during the storm, Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communication and IDOT gave the following recommendations:
- Allow extra time to arrive at your destination
- Leave plenty of space between vehicles, when driving
- Ensure you have a full tank of gas prior to leaving
- Inform family and friends where you're going
- Keep an emergency kit inside your vehicle
- Give emergency vehicles and plows plenty of space
- Always wear a seat belt
- If you are involved in a crash, stay in your vehicle until help arrives
- Reminder: Using handheld phones is illegal while driving in Illinois
The snow is expected to clear out of the area by Thursday evening, and behind that storm system colder air is expected to arrive, driving temperatures down into the 20s for the remainder of the work week and into the weekend.