Story Summary

Chicago, suburbs hit with first snowstorm of the season

The Chicago area’s longest streak without snow came to an end Thursday afternoon.

Morning rain turned into snow causing heavy traffic and numerous delays and cancellations at O’Hare and Midway airports.

Severe weather blog: blog.chicagoweathercenter.com/severe-blog/

School closings: wgntv.com/closings

ChicagoWeatherCenter.com has all the latest weather information.

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Overnight snow finally gave plow drivers something to do.

Chicago’s Department of Streets and Sanitation sent out 199 plows to clear and salt the main routes, before moving on to the city’s residential streets.

The Illinois Department of Transportation had plows out on the expressways and tollways as well, but dozens of accidents were still reported.

Illinois State Police responded to 27 overnight crashes in the Chicago district alone, police said.  That’s compared to the five or 10 the district normally responds to within the same time period.

Another 15 or so crashes were reported, but the drivers left by the time police arrived.

Only three of crashes caused injuries, which were all considered to be minor.

It’s been 319 days since Chicago had at least one inch of snowfall. That ties a nearly 70 year-old record.

The last time the city went this long without at least one inch was in 1940.

Given this week’s forecast, it looks like Chicago will break the record on Wednesday, and then continue the streak into the weekend.

The temperatures are expected to hit the 50s on Friday and Saturday.

On average, the lowest temperature during a winter in Chicago is nine degrees below zero. So far, this season’s lowest reading has been 10 degrees.

This story was written by WGN News Writer C. Hayes.

8440] CHICAGO – Chicago avoided slick roads and potential flooding that was expected to accompany this winter’s first winter storm, though enough snow fell to end a 290-day streak of snowless days.

“The cumulative snow is over,” said Gino Izzi, meteorologist for the National Weather Service. “There’s still a few flurries around this morning, and it’s still pretty windy. Some of the far north and northwestern suburbs did get some accumulation but generally temperatures stayed above freezing so what snow did fall melted across the Chicago area.”

State police said they were “basically having an excellent evening” and didn’t report any major accidents.

No roads are closed in the city due to the weather, the police department’s News Affairs office said.

All CTA trains are running with normal service, according to the agency’s website. Metra hasn’t reported any delays, either.

Neither of the two major airports reported significant delays early Friday morning.

The streak of snowless days – the previous record set in 1994 at 280 days – came to an end about 6:30 p.m. Thurdsay when one-tenth of an inch fell at O’Hare International Airport, Izzi said. Another tenth fell before midnight.

“Yesterday was also now the latest first measurable snowfall in Chicago, (with records) going back almost 140 years,” Izzi said. “The old record was December 16, 1965.”

The heaviest snow accumulation remained west. Two-tenths of an inch was reported in Romeoville before midnight and three-tenths of an inch at Midway Airport during the same period. Much of that will have melted by Friday morning, the National Weather Service said.

The highest accumulation was in the Grayslake area, with 1.2 inches.

If the city makes it until Tuesday without an inch of snow falling at O’Hare – a real possibility – it will be the second longest streak, Izzi said, at 303 days. The record is 313.

The city is also in the midst of the second longest streak of days without a high temperature below freezing – the last day was Feb. 25, the longest stretch since 1878.

“Eight more days and it’s the new record,” Izzi said. “We could cool down at the end of next week so we may not break it but we’re going to come close.”

chicagobreaking@tribune.com
Twitter: @chicagobreaking

Up to six inches of snow in McHenry County– and believe it or not, he snow is not the biggest threat.  Ice and wind have emergency services in worried. If power lines go down, 325,000 customers will lose more than just electricity– they will lose water too.

Pretty as a postcard just days before Christmas– but Woodstock is worried. If the power lines give way under the wet and heavy driving snow– loss of electricity isn’t the only thing on the line, 325,000 customers will lose more than just electricity– they will lose water too.

David Christensen said “the other risk here is water.” McHenry County relies on well water–underground-generated by electrical pumps.

Thursday’s rain, followed by snow and dipping temperatures could weigh their lines down and wreak havoc on their services to hundreds of thousands of people.  Christensen’s biggest fear is the potential loss of power.

The roads are another big fear.  Locals are scraping what they can see on their windshields and sidewalks but undetectable ice on the open road — especially with the high winds blowing– puts everyone at risk. 23 trucks are cruising 19 routes in McHenry County— salting 550 miles.

McHenry County Sheriff Keith Nyrgen said “if you don’t have to drive, stay home, don’t drive.” And whatever you do– have your cell phone and a charger handy—and pack your cars with blankets, flashlights, sand, salt and water.

Sarah Jindra has the latest traffic conditions from the WGN Traffic Center.

Periods of heavy snow are expected throughout the evening. Much of the Chicago area can expect to see two to four inches of snow by Friday morning. Areas North and West can expect to see six inches of snow.
Read more at http://wgntv.com/2012/12/20/winter-storm-may-bring-up-to-6-of-snow/#Cg4ymuHt2IciS5PD.99

A snowstorm is headed our way — find out the latest from Tom Skilling.

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