State and local officials are warning residents about potentially treacherous travel conditions on Thursday as a winter storm hits the area, with rain, ice and snow all possible throughout the day.
The Illinois Department of Transportation says that it anticipates that snow-and-ice teams will be deployed overnight Wednesday and into Thursday, but warned that salt and other anti-ice mitigations will be limited in their efficacy because of the heavy rain that will likely wash it away.
“The safest option is to postpone any unnecessary trips and to stay home,” IDOT Secretary Omer Osman said in a statement. “If you must travel, prepare for very slow and potentially hazardous conditions.”
Thunderstorms and rain are expected area-wide on Wednesday, and as temperatures rapidly cool, a wintry mix could fall in northern portions of the state.
As Thursday dawns, the change-over to snow will continue, and after a brief break, heavy snow, along with gusty winds, are expected in the afternoon, potentially causing huge travel concerns during the evening commute.
The rapid snowfall will make it difficult for plows to keep roads passable, and motorists are being advised to give those plows, and emergency vehicles, plenty of room on the roadways.
“ISP, alongside IDOT and other agencies, will be working in hazardous weather conditions. Please remember to slow down, stay vigilant and move over for any vehicle on the side of the road,” Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly said in a statement.
In the city of Chicago, the additional threat of lakeshore flooding is possible all day Thursday and into Friday, with northeasterly winds causing massive waves and freezing spray on Lake Michigan.
The Office of Emergency Management and Communications says that residents should avoid the lakefront if at all possible, and to exercise caution elsewhere on area roads.
OEMC officials urge motorists to:
-Allow extra travel time
-Have a full tank of gas
-Let friends and relatives know where you are going
-NOT to drive through high water
Residents are also being urged to use caution when shoveling snow, as it will be wet and heavy, and to take frequent breaks when cleaning driveways and sidewalks.
Power outages are also possible due to heavy snow and high winds.
A winter weather advisory will be in effect overnight, with a winter storm warning taking effect Thursday afternoon and into the evening.