A constant barrage of snow has left area residents and snow removal crews with a common dilemma -- where to put all of it?
After a tricky morning commute, Chicago Streets and Sanitation crews were still working on the main streets mid-afternoon, with blowing and drifting snow complicating the process, according to spokeswoman Molly Poppe.
More than 300 pieces of snow-fighting equipment are out clearing roadways in the city with a focus on the main thoroughfares and Lake Shore Drive.
Numerous spin-outs and fender benders, delayed trains, canceled flights and at least one jack-knifed tractor trailer were all part of a nerve-wracking Wednesday morning commute as another weather system dropped several inches of snow on the Chicago area.
Roadways throughout the area were slick from snow and ice, causing travel times along some routes to exceed more than double their average.
"I've been in the car for over an hour and the trip normally takes 20 minutes," commuter Kathy Tompkin said while stopped at a gas station on Chicago's south side. "I'm ready to move to Arizona."
A jack-knifed tractor-trailer on Interstate 55 completely shutdown the southbound lanes north of Illinois Route 6. All lanes were reopened by 11 a.m., officials said.
Still, the Illinois State Police urged extreme caution, reduced speeds and patience.
"All of Cook County is snow-covered," said Illinois State Police District Chicago Sgt. Rodney Collins.
He said there were at least 19 minor crashes and 12 vehicles in need of a tow between 10 p.m. Tuesday and 8 a.m. Wednesday. Three injuries were reported in those crashes but none were fatal or life threatening.
The Illinois Department of Transportation readied 1,755 snowplows and 3,700 employees to remove snow and ice, and the Illinois Tollway had plans to deploy its full fleet of 182 snowplows and more than 200 workers to keep roads clear, according to a statement from Gov. Pat Quinn’s office.
On the rails, commuters on the Chicago Transit Authority's Red Line saw the most delays. One train operator blamed the delay on a switching problem at the Howard Station. Other Red Line trains were delayed because of a sick train operator.
Metra officials posted a weather advisory to the rail agency's website Tuesday morning, warning riders that weather conditions could cause delays Tuesday and Wednesday. Those delays came true, as multiple trains were held back because of equipment problems, mechanical issues and freight train interference. Commuters on the Blue Island Branch, the Rock Island District and the Union Pacific West Line were affected.
More than 400 flights were canceled before midday at Chicago's two main airports. The bulk of the cancellations -- more than 370 of them -- were at O'Hare International Airport. Delays there were averaging about 30 minutes at about 11:30 a.m. To the south, airlines servicing Midway International Airport canceled more than 45 flights. Delays there were about 15 minutes as of 11:30 a.m.
The snowstorm that started Tuesday evening dropped between 3 inches and 7 inches on the Chicago area by midday Wednesday. O'Hare reported 5 inches of accumulation and Midway reported 4.3 inches by 6 a.m.
Watseka, south of Chicago, reported 9 inches of snow.
The latest round of snow and cold follows a brutal January that ranked as Chicago’s 3rd snowiest and 10th coldest on record. Residents suffered through 33.7 inches of snow and a frigid average temperature of 15.7 degrees -- more than 8 degrees below normal.
Updates on Winter Storm: