Chicago Forecast

Live snowstorm updates: ‘Flash freeze' possible as winds pick up

Latest updates on travel conditions, flight cancellations and more as the first big winter snowstorm of the season hits Chicago

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NOTE: The latest forecast can be found here.

With nearly all of the Chicago area under either a winter weather advisory or a winter storm warning Tuesday, officials warned of difficult travel conditions and heavy, wet snowfall across the area totaling up to 9 inches in some parts.

Tuesday morning, as much as 1-4 inches of snow had already fallen in some parts, though early rain had wiped some of those totals away.

While suburbs to the north and west didn't see much snow overnight, more came later in the day, with some parts expected to see as much as 9 inches by Tuesday evening, the NBC 5 Storm Team said.

Here are the latest updates on travel conditions, flight cancellations, and more as the first big snowstorm of the season hits the Chicago area.

Officials warn of ‘flash freeze' potential as gusty winds, blowing snow impact roads

Drivers in the Chicago area are being urged to take serious precautions on roadways overnight as gusty winds could cause “flash freezing.”

According to the National Weather Service, a winter storm warning remains in effect for McHenry, Lake, DeKalb, Kane and LaSalle counties until 4 a.m. Wednesday, while a winter weather advisory remains in effect for the remainder of the Chicago area.

While snow is expected to taper off as the evening goes on, some accumulations are still possible, and unlike the earlier snow that was heavy and wet, snow late in the evening could be on the light and fluffy side.

As a result, that snow could be very susceptible to blowing around, and with wind gusts expected to gradually increase, topping out at 40 miles per hour or more, blowing snow could become a serious concern on area roadways, especially east of Interstate 55.

Those wind gusts could also cause snow to freeze quickly on roadways in a phenomenon known as “flash freezing.” That could mean roadways that were previously cleared could become impacted by spotty ice, a massive hazard for drivers in the overnight hours.

While many residents focus on the negatives of snow, some businesses rely on the wintry weather this time of year, as Kate Chappell explains.
While some parts of the Chicago area saw mostly rain Tuesday, DeKalb County got plenty of snow, as Christian Farr explains.

Ground stop lifted, but flight delays continue

The FAA has lifted a ground stop at O'Hare Airport, but a "traffic management" program remains in place.

"This is causing some arriving flights to be delayed an average of 1 hour and 46 minutes," the FAA stated.

Meanwhile, Chicago's aviation reports noted average delays of 47 minutes.

Dozens of crashes reported

Dozens of crashes have been reported on area roadways due to a winter storm blasting the Chicago area, leading to road closures and numerous reports of injuries.

A crash on the Veteran’s Memorial Tollway in Will County has blocked one lane of the roadway near 143rd and Archer Avenue, while another crash on the Jane Addams Tollway in Kane County has also led to a lane closure and reports of injuries.

The Tri-State Tollway is also reporting lane closures near the Hinsdale Oasis because of a crash, while Interstate 55 is seeing multiple crashes in Will County as snow and rain continue to fall.

In DeKalb County, a crash led to a vehicle rolling into a flooded ditch according to Total Traffic, leading firefighters scrambling to rescue a person trapped in the vehicle.

The Eisenhower Expressway is also seeing travel issues, especially in DuPage County due to potholes and slick spots that have led to multiple crashes.

Details here.

Ground stop issued at O'Hare Airport

The Federal Aviation Administration issued a ground stop at Chicago's O'Hare Airport "due to snow or ice."

The ground stop is in effect until 4:30 p.m. CT, according to the agency.

More than 150 flights have been canceled at both of Chicago's airports as of Tuesday afternoon.

Traffic impacts begin

Forecasters are warning Chicago-area residents to use extreme caution on roadways Tuesday evening, as additional snowfall and increasing winds could cause hazardous driving conditions.

Already by 3:15 p.m., crashes and hazardous travel conditions were being reported.

In Glen Ellyn, police reported snow on St. Charles Road was making for difficult travel, noting there would be "periodic temporary road closures."

"Please find an alternate route if possible," the department said.

Winter storm alerts extended for some

The National Weather Service extended a winter storm warning for several counties from midnight until 4 a.m. Wednesday. Here's what's changed:

McHenry, DeKalb, Kane, LaSalle: Winter storm warning until 4 a.m. Alert warns of additional 3-5 inches of snow and wind gusts of up to 40 mph.

Lake County, Illinois: Winter storm warning until 4 a.m. Alert warns of additional 2-5 inches of snow and wind gusts of up to 40 mph.

DuPage, Kendall, Grundy, Livingston, northern Cook: Winter weather advisory until 4 a.m. Wednesday. Snow accumulations between 2 and 4 inches with wind gusts as high as 40 mph.

Kankakee County in Illinois and Lake, Newton, Porter and Jasper in Indiana: Winter weather advisory from 6 p.m. CT Tuesday to 4 a.m. CT Wednesday. Accumulations of up to 1 inch of snow.

Live radar

Will you see snow or rain? Track the winter weather as it heads towards you with the NBC 5 Storm Team's live interactive radar.

Snow or rain?

At 1:30 p.m., the NBC 5 Storm Team reported that the latest round of winter weather could still bring several additional inches of snow to certain suburbs, but there will a sharp cutoff line for areas that see snow and rain.

Some could see rain transitioning to snow later in the day as well.

Here's a look at how the timing breaks down.

Latest snow totals

As of 11:30 a.m., here are the latest totals from the National Weather Service. Note that rain may have washed away the snow in some parts:

  • Plainfield: 3.6 inches
  • Willow Springs: 3.5 inches
  • Homer Glen: 3.5 inches
  • New Lenox: 3.2 inches
  • Palos Park: 3.2 inches
  • Harvard: 3 inches
  • Aurora: 2.8 inches
  • Valparaiso: 2.8 inches
  • Clarendon Hills: 2.4 inches
  • Naperville: 2.5 inches
  • Geneva: 2.5 inches
  • Schaumburg: 2.3 inches
  • Bull Valley: 2.2 inches
  • Batavia: 2 inches
  • Boulder Hill: 2 inches
  • Campton Hills: 2 inches
  • Oak Forest: 2 inches
  • DeKalb: 2 inches
  • Downers Grove: 2 inches
  • St. Charles: 1 inch
  • West Chicago: 1.8 inches
  • Midway Airport: 1.7 inches
  • Kankakee: 1 inch

'Several' inches of snow still possible in some suburbs

The second wave of snow could still bring several additional inches of accumulation, though a sharp gradient will mark a dramatic shift in totals for those who see snow and those who see rain

Winter weather advisory remains in effect for some parts, canceled in others

Kendall, Grundy, DuPage and northern Cook counties in Illinois, are under a winter weather advisory through midnight. Those parts could see an additional 2-4 inches of snow by Tuesday evening.

Other counties previously included in the advisory -- Kankakee, Central and Southern Cook and Will Counties in Illinois, and Lake, Porter and LaPorte Counties in Indiana -- were removed around 9 a.m. Tuesday.

In those areas, as much as 2-5 inches of snow was expected overnight and into Tuesday morning, though much of that snow was been wiped out by rain.

Further south, a rain and a snow mix was expected to gradually change back to all snow by the evening

More than 100 flights canceled at O'Hare, Midway

More than 100 flights at Chicago's O'Hare and Midway International Airports were canceled as of Tuesday morning, showed.

As of 1 p.m., 112 flight cancelations were reported at O'Hare, and 39 cancellations were reported at Midway.

Is your child's school closed? Here's how to check

More than a dozen Chicago schools already announced closures due to the storm.

Here's the full list of closures reported across the area.

For Chicago Public Schools information, go here.

How to check Illinois road conditions

The Illinois Department of Transportation issued a warning to drivers, advising of slick conditions along with reduced visibility and urged residents to avoid traveling if possible.

"If you must travel, be advised your destination could have significantly higher amounts of snow than where your trip originated," the alert said. "Slow down, anticipate much longer travel times, increase braking distances and expect conditions to deteriorate."

If you do need to travel, use these links to check the road conditions near you:

Officials issue 'over-salting' warning

Chicago officials urged residents residents to not use excessive amounts of salt on their sidewalks and driveways.

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago posted the reminder on Sunday afternoon, saying that it takes a surprisingly low amount of salt to properly melt away snow and ice.

According to officials, a 12-ounce cup holds enough salt for 10 sidewalk squares, or a 20-foot driveway.

Predicted snow totals

Roman noted an estimated 1-4 inches of snow fell in counties under the winter weather advisory overnight, with more than 4 inches recorded in Joliet, and 3.6 inches recorded in Chicago. Morning rain wiped out the totals in some of areas, Roman said, adding that precipitation in those parts may stay in the form of rain as the day continues.

By Tuesday evening, counties in the advisory may only see an additional inch of snow accumulating.

North and west counties under the winter storm warning however could see snow totals of between 6-8, or even 9 inches by Tuesday night, forecast models show. Between 2-5 inches of snow was likely to fall between 7 - 10 a.m., with morning commutes likely impacted, Roman said.

"Plan for a messy morning commute, with slick roads and reduced visibility," Roman said, adding that morning winds of 20-25 miles per hour were expected to increase as the day continued.

ComEd officials Monday announced with the company’s Emergency Operations Center will open Tuesday to assist with any problems that may arise.

“The kind of snow forecasted this week can be especially problematic because it can cause branches and entire trees to topple onto our power lines,” COO Dave Perez said in a statement.

According to Roman, widespread snow was expected to continue falling throughout the day, with most areas seeing heavy snow through 9 p.m., and tapering overnight.

Weather alerts: Winter storm warning

Winter storm warning: North and west suburbs

According to the National Weather Service, a winter storm warning was in place until midnight for Lake, McHenry, DeKalb, Kane and LaSalle counties in Illinois, and Kenosha Counties in Wisconsin.

"Heavy, wet snow and dangerous travel conditions expected," the NWS warned in an alert. "Travel could be very difficult. Patchy blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility."

Wind gusts early Tuesday clocked in at 20-25 miles per hour, NBC 5 Storm Team Meteorologist Alicia Roman said, with gusts expected to reach as high as 40 mph by afternoon.

Additionally, snowfall rates were expected to exceed one inch per hour, creating dangerous driving conditions for both the morning and evening commutes.

"If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight for food and water," the NWS said.

Traffic cameras across parts of Illinois early Tuesday morning showed slick, slippery roads, wet snowflakes and low visibility.

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