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Snow snarls morning commute, causes flight cancellations

Staff report

Metra was experiencing scattered delays on some of its lines this morning as the Chicago area was hit with temperatures near zero and more than a half -foot of lake-effect snow. But the problems were nothing like those that plagued the commuter agency during the last arctic outbreak two weeks ago.

As of about 8:50 a.m., Metra had reported on its website at least eight delays this morning ranging from about 13 to 20 minutes on six different lines — the Burlington Northern Santa Fe, the Metra Electric District, the Milwaukee District North, SouthWest Service, Union Pacific Northwest and Union Pacific North. Two of the delays were on the Milwaukee District North — one inbound and one outbound — and two were on the Metra Electric line, both inbound.

The causes for the delays included switch problems and weather conditions, according to the website.

During the last surge of polar air, Metra commuters faced delays of an hour or longer and the cancellation of dozens of trains. The problems persisted for a week, prompting apologies from Metra officials and launching at least two reviews into the agency’s performance.

As the forecast called for a challenging commute this morning, Metra posted a warning to its riders overnight: “Unfortunately, weather conditions beyond our control will create unanticipated delays or service disruptions. Depending on the severity of conditions in specific areas, your train may experience delays.”

No weather delays were reported on the CTA this morning, but trains were stopped on the Blue Line at Logan Square when someone stepped onto the tracks.

More than 1500 domestic flights have been cancelled for the day because of the snow.

150 of those cancellations are at O’Hare another 30 at Midway.

Practically anything going to or from the northeast is called off.

New York City faces a winter storm warning from noon today, until Wednesday morning.

Highways were slick and snow-covered, according to the state police, and commute times were doubled in some areas. Spin-outs were reported across the area but no major accidents or injuries.

“Yield to snowplows and take your time,”’ advised Illinois State Police Master Sgt. Jason LoCoco.

The inbound and outbound Day Ryan Expressway from about 35th Street to about 87th Street was backed up around 8 a.m., according to LoCoco said.

“The traffic volume is pretty heavy,” LoCoco said.

The state police also reported hazardous road conditions on I-80 east of Ridge Road in far southwest suburban Minooka, where a multiple-vehicle crash involving two semis had occurred. Lanes are blocked in that area and several vehicles are in a ditch because of the bad conditions.

Eastern Cook County remained under a lake-effect snow warning until 9 a.m., according to the National Weather Service. A foot of snow in parts of the county was “not out of question,” the weather service said.

A wind chill advisory was in effect until 10 a.m. for Lake, McHenry and Kane counties. The high today is expected to be 7 to 11 degrees but wind chills could be as low as minus-10 to minus-20, the weather service said.

Organizers said the early turnout was a bit lower than usual, but plenty of hardy commuters braved the snow and cold on two wheels as part of the Celebrate Winter Bike to Work Day.

Fran Tuite rolled in from Old Town to Daley Plaza, where cyclists warmed up with coffee before heading to the office.

“It’s really not that bad,” said Tuite, who commutes on bike year round.

Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC

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