winter storm illinois

Live Blog: Winter Storm Warnings Loom, Officials Say Travel Could Become Treacherous

Whether you're under a winter weather advisory or a winter storm warning overnight, one thing is clear: hazardous winter conditions are expected across the Chicago area in the coming hours.

A powerful storm is on the horizon for many, but there's still plenty of uncertainty surrounding the storm's path and what it will mean for parts of the Chicago area. Still, ice, snow and localized blizzard conditions are all possible.

Here's the latest as the storm inches closer:

4:59 a.m.: Round 1 of Storm System Has Ended as Snowfall Totals Updated

Round one of the winter storm system has ended with less freezing rain than expected, according to the NBC 5 Storm Team.

For some areas, snowfall totals have dropped. Here's the latest:

4:08 a.m.: Winter Weather Advisory Issued, Storm Warning Canceled for Parts of Chicago Area

A previous winter storm warning was canceled Thursday morning as a weather advisory was issued for Cook, DuPage, La Salle, Kendall, Kane and parts of Will counties.

The winter weather advisory will be in effect from noon to 9 p.m.

A winter storm warning remains in effect until 9 p.m. Thursday for Grundy, Kankakee, Livingston and parts of Will counties in Illinois, as well as Lake, Ford, Newton and Jasper counties in Indiana.

The National Weather Service warned that some areas in Indiana could see "near white out conditions" at times, causing "extremely dangerous" travel conditions Thursday afternoon.

3:21 a.m.: Chicago Deploys Salt Trucks to Respond to Winter Storm

Chicago's Department of Streets and Sanitation deployed 211 salt spreaders early Thursday morning in response to a winter system to combat anticipated freezing rain, sleet and wet snow.

City officials said the department will continue to monitor weather and ground conditions and will adjust snow and ice resources, if necessary. Residents were urged to be mindful of icy conditions and drive with caution.

2:40 a.m.: Winter Storm Warning Changes Issued for Chicago-Area Counties

A winter storm warning was issued for De Kalb County Thursday and goes into effect from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m.

From 8 am until 11 p.m. Thursday, a winter storm warning will be in effect for La Porte County in Indiana.

The National Weather Service warned of "heavy mixed precipitation" with snow totals of 3-to-6 inches in De Kalb and 5-to-9 inches in La Porte.

Wednesday

10:10 p.m.: Rain Moves Through the Chicago Area, With Flooding Expected

According to the National Weather Service, rain has begun to move across the area Wednesday night and is expected to cause some flooding in "low-lying areas."

6:53 p.m.: More Schools Move to Remote Learning Ahead of Storm

Many schools across the area are moving to e-learning on Thursday, including numerous school districts in Kankakee County.

The area is expecting to see between 9-to-12 inches of snow during Thursday's storm, and school districts in Kankakee, Manteno, Bourbonnais and Momence have already announecd that they will switch to remote learning on Thursday.

A full list of closures can be found here.

6:14 p.m.: How Much Snow Could Chicago Area See Thursday?

As a winter storm approaches the Chicago area, snowfall projections are being dialed in as the track of that system begins to take shape.

The NBC 5 Storm Team uses two different models to project the amount of snow that will fall during the storm, with the High-Resolution Rapid Refresh model (HRRR) and the High-Resolution North American model (NAM) currently showing similar tracks, but different snowfall amounts, from the system.

As things stand Wednesday afternoon, the NAM is showing a significant snowfall event across the area, with the northern suburbs seeing 6-to-8 inches of snow, the city of Chicago seeing between 7-to-9 inches, and areas in Kankakee County and northwest Indiana potentially seeing a foot or more of snow by Thursday night.

The HRRR model still shows a fairly significant snowfall for the far southern portions of the Chicago area, along with northwest Indiana, but much smaller totals in the city of Chicago and in the northern and western suburbs.

Here are the latest projections.

5:55 p.m.: State, Local Officials Urge Residents to Avoid Unnecessary Trips During Winter Storm

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.

5 p.m. Chicago's OEMC warns of 'severe winter weather'

Chicago officials urged resident to "take the necessary steps to be prepared for possible lakeshore flooding and dangerous conditions near the lakefront due to large battering waves, heavy rain, high winds, and snow accumulation for the Chicago area." With numerous weather alerts set to take effect across the area, officials warned that travel will likely be impacted for the Thursday morning and evening commutes.

"Plan on slippery road conditions becoming treacherous with low visibility due to falling and blowing snow, especially along lake Michigan," the Office of Emergency Management and Communications wrote.

The department released the following tips for those who must travel:

  • Allow extra time to reach your destination.  
  • Leave plenty of space between vehicles. 
  • Have a full tank of gas and let friends and relatives know where you are going. 
  • Make sure you have an emergency kit in your vehicle.  
  • Yield to emergency vehicles as well as Streets and Sanitation salt spreaders and plows. 
  • With the potential for flooding, do not drive through high water.  
  • The heavy wet nature of the snow could also put strain on tree limbs and power lines which may result in some power outages. 
  • Shoveling snow can be a health risk as well. Remember to stay hydrated, take frequent breaks, and only move small amounts with each shovel pass.  

4:50 p.m.: Latest Snow Total Projections

As a winter storm approaches the Chicago area, snowfall projections are being dialed in as the track of that system begins to take shape.

The NBC 5 Storm Team uses two different models to project the amount of snow that will fall during the storm, with the High-Resolution Rapid Refresh model (HRRR) and the High-Resolution North American model (NAM) currently showing similar tracks, but different snowfall amounts, from the system.

As things stand Wednesday afternoon, the NAM is showing a significant snowfall event across the area, with the northern suburbs seeing 6-to-8 inches of snow, the city of Chicago seeing between 7-to-9 inches, and areas in Kankakee County and northwest Indiana potentially seeing a foot or more of snow by Thursday night.

The HRRR model still shows a fairly significant snowfall for the far southern portions of the Chicago area, along with northwest Indiana, but much smaller totals in the city of Chicago and in the northern and western suburbs.

Here is what is being predicted so far.

4 p.m.: Several schools announce closures, switches to e-learning ahead of winter storm

By Wednesday afternoon, nearly two dozen schools and school districts had announced plans to switch to e-learning or close Thursday.

Among those closed were District 13 schools, Dujardin School, Erickson Elementary School and Westfield Middle School in Bloomingdale, along with Taft School District 90 in Lockport.

A number of districts like District 104 in Summit, District 2 in Bensenville, District 45 in Villa Park, District 53 in Oak Brook and District 180 in Burr Ridge had announced plans for remote learning.

See a full updated list here.

4 p.m.: Track and rain and snow with Live Doppler 5 Radar

3:50 p.m. IDOT Warns of 'Hazardous Travel' Across Illinois During Winter Storm

Illinois transportation officials are warning drivers about hazardous conditions expected on roadways across the state as a winter system makes its way through Wednesday night and into Thursday.

The Illinois Department of Transportation said a "major storm" is expected to bring heavy rains, flooding, double-digit snowfalls, ice and high winds, all of which will "create slick conditions, impacting travel across much of the state."

“The Illinois Department of Transportation’s snow-and-ice teams will be prepared and out in force, but the public needs to be ready for conditions to change quickly and worsen if they are out on the roads,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman said in a statement. “As always during periods of extreme weather, the safest option is to postpone any unnecessary trips and stay home. If you must travel, prepare for very slow and potentially hazardous conditions. And please slow down around our plows and other emergency vehicles, giving them plenty of room to do their jobs.”

With some locations potentially seeing up to 10 inches of snowfall paired with high winds, the conditions "will make driving difficult, especially for high-profile vehicles on east-west roads, while causing snow to blow and drift."

IDOT's Getting Around Illinois website offers a look at current winter conditions across the state.

Using a map, the site tracks which roadways are clear and which are partly, mostly or completely covered with ice or snow. It also highlights so-called "trouble spots," where things like blowing snow have been reported or bridges and roadways prone to icing.

For those who must travel, IDOT recommends:

  • Turn around, don’t drown! Do not attempt to drive through flooded roads. Do not drive around barricades. Delay travel until conditions improve.
  • Drastically reduce speeds and 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. Dial *999 in the Chicago area for assistance in case of emergency.
  • Check the forecast and make sure someone is aware of your route and schedule.
  • Reminder: Using handheld phones while driving is illegal in Illinois, unless it is an emergency.
  • If you are involved in a crash or break down, remain inside your vehicle, which is your safest form of shelter. Exiting your vehicle into live traffic can have fatal consequences.
  • Always wear a seat belt, whether you’re sitting in the front seat or back seat. It’s the law. Never get behind the wheel impaired.
  • Visit www.gettingaroundillinois.com for regular updates on road conditions statewide. You also can follow IDOT on Facebook and Twitter.

3:45 p.m.: A look at the weather alerts issued across the Chicago area and when they take effect

With some locations under a winter storm warning and others under an advisory, what exactly you will see as a winter storm moves across parts of the area will depend largely on where you live.

Here's a full breakdown of which alerts will be in place and when.

Here's a look at the latest threats and timing:

11 a.m.: Latest projections in snow totals

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