Officials are warning of potentially dangerous road conditions with a weekend winter storm bringing plenty of uncertainty to the area.
The Illinois Department of Transportation on Friday urged motorists to allow extra time, plan ahead and “anticipate conditions to change suddenly with roads becoming extremely slick.”
“While IDOT is prepared for this unusual storm, driving will be hazardous this weekend. If it is not essential, please ask yourself if your trip can wait until conditions improve,” Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman said in a statement. “If you must be on the roads, slow down, avoid distractions inside your vehicle and do not crowd our plows. In areas impacted by heavy rains, do not attempt to drive through flooded roads.”
Freezing rain, sleet and snow are all expected with the upcoming storm along with high winds, flooding and high waves, all of which could make travel even more hazardous.
“Flooding is a strong possibility throughout much of the state. Wet pavement in winter can freeze with little warning, creating treacherous driving conditions,” IDOT warned.
The department said it plans to have more than 1,800 trucks and equipment applying salt statewide.
“Winter weather brings additional challenges and responsibilities for all motorists,” Illinois State Police Director Brendan F. Kelly said in a statement. “With the winter storm expected this weekend, the Illinois State Police would like to remind motorists who must travel to reduce their speed, limit distractions while driving and allow for extra travel time to help ensure their safety. Lastly, ISP would also like to remind all motorists to ‘Move Over-Slow Down’ for all emergency vehicles and any vehicles with flashing lights.”
Across the Chicago area this weekend, everything from winter storm warnings to winter weather advisories to flood watches and warnings will be in effect.
As a result of the uncertainty with the weather, airlines are allowing passengers to waive change fees for flights over the weekend, including United, American, and Southwest Airlines.
For those who must travel, IDOT offered this advice:
• Take it slow, especially when approaching
intersections, ramps, bridges and shaded areas that are prone to icing.
• Make sure your gas tank is full.
• Keep a cell phone, warm clothes, blankets, food, water, a first-aid kit, washer fluid and an ice scraper in your vehicle.
• Check the forecast and make sure someone is aware of your route and schedule.
• Carry a cellphone and dial *999 in the Chicago area for roadway assistance in case of emergency.
• Reminder: Using handheld phones while driving is illegal in Illinois, unless it is an emergency situation.
• Always wear a seat belt, whether you’re sitting in the front seat or back seat. It’s the law.
This is a developing forecast. Check here for updates on the latest weather predictions from NBC 5 Storm Team meteorologists.