Motorists are being urged to stay off of area roadways as much as possible on Wednesday, as heavy snow is expected to snarl the morning commute and to challenge snowplow drivers as they try to keep roads passable.
According to the National Weather Service, the heaviest snowfall on Wednesday is expected to fall during the morning commute, with an inch or more of snow possible per hour during the worst part of the winter storm.
“I strongly encourage you to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday. “Statewide, we have more than 1,800 trucks and plows ready to go.”
The governor issued a disaster declaration, paving the way for the National Guard to provide assistance during the storm.
Feeling out of the loop? We'll catch you up on the Chicago news you need to know. Sign up for the weekly Chicago Catch-Up newsletter here.
In Chicago, the city’s Streets and Sanitation department has deployed its fleet of more than 200 salt spreaders and plows to help keep arterial roads, as well as DuSable Lake Shore Drive, as clear as possible.
The Illinois Tollway is also engaging its entire fleet of snow-removal vehicles and salt spreaders, according to officials.
Even as plows fight to keep roadways clear, residents are still being urged to postpone any unnecessary travel, or to use public transportation when possible.
The Chicago Transit Authority says it is working to keep railways clear, and will continue to deploy resources to assist with the morning commute on Wednesday.
Chicago’s airports could also be potentially impacted by the heavy snow, as Midway could see nearly a foot of accumulation before the snow begins to move out of the area on Wednesday afternoon. O’Hare could see accumulations of nearly six inches, but a lot depends on whether lake-effect enhancement occurs, according to forecast models.
Residents that absolutely have to travel are being advised to adhere to the following tips:
-If you are involved in a crash or a breakdown, stay inside your vehicle if at all possible. Activate hazard lights and try to move to the side of the road if possible.
-Make sure your gas tank is full before you leave for your destination.
-Keep a fully-charged cell phone, warm clothes, blankets, food, water and a first aid kit in your vehicle, along with extra windshield wiper fluid and an ice scraper.
-Make friends and loved ones aware of your travel schedule, and the route you intend to take.
The snow is expected to largely subside, or even stop, by Wednesday evening, but the far southern suburbs and parts of northwest Indiana could see more snow on Thursday, which could complicate yet another morning commute.