By Peter Nickeas Tribune reporter5:51 a.m. CST, January 25, 2013
Snow started falling about 4:45 a.m. near O’Hare International Airport, jeopardizing a 335-day streak of calendar days without snow, according to the National Weather Service.
Falling snow had failed to reach the ground overnight, blocked by a shield of dry air that ensures the flakes evaporate before hitting the ground.
“It’s been snowing very hard above the ground all night and there’s been really dry air so it evaporates before it hits the ground,” National Weather Service Meteorologist Gino Izzi said.
About a half hour into the storm, Illinois State Police in Chicago reported “slick conditions” and had already responded to six fender benders.
The snow should fall through the morning rush hour, though not much more than an inch – if that – is expected.
“We’re not looking for much to accumulate – up to an inch at worst, with high (temperatures) in the mid to upper 20s,” Izzi said. “Something like this wouldn’t be newsworthy if it wasn’t for the fact it hasn’t snowed all year.”
The Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation deployed almost 200 of its 284 plow trucks to clear streets of snow and apply salt to the roads.
“We’re going to be monitoring the weather but at this point we’re looking at snow fall at least through the rush hour,” said Anne Sheahan, spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation.
An inch of snow today would end the 335-day streak but failing that, it would likely extend into next week, Izzi said.
“We don’t have much of a chance of snow for the next five or six days,” Izzi said. “If we miss today – today’s our one shot until we get to the middle or end of next week.”
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