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CHICAGO — Residents in Chicago and the surrounding areas woke up to heavy snow Wednesday morning, with continued chances for snow stretching all the way into Thursday.

A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for Kankakee County and Northwest Indiana through 6 p.m. Thursday. A Winter Weather Advisory will be in effect for Cook County from 9 p.m. Wednesday through 6 p.m. Thursday due to lake effect snow.

The heavy snow caused a slick and dangerous morning commute with wet, snow covered roads — making it difficult to see lanes. Residents can track current city plows here.

It also caused issued at Chicago airports. As of 8:50 p.m., O’Hare was reporting over 720 cancellations and Midway was reporting nearly 100. Both airports also reported delays.

Here are some preliminary totals as of 4:30 p.m. Tom Skilling details more totals on his Facebook Page.

The incoming storm’s precipitation did not start as snow. Patchy rain hit the city Tuesday afternoon into the evening before snow began to fall.

An extended period of snowfall will arrive in waves over the warning area.

There will essentially be two waves of snowfall. The first, the most widespread and heaviest, occurred Tuesday night up to Wednesday. That’s when snowfall may become more sporadic, particularly away from Lake Michigan Wednesday afternoon and evening. Simply put, areas from Chicago and roughly the I-88 corridor (the East/West Tollway) and south are likely to see most of this storm’s snow.

A second wave of snowfall will affect mainly southern sections of the area except for more selective lake effect snowy spells in lakeside counties of Illinois and northwest Indiana Wednesday night into at least a portion of Thursday.

Possible Snowfall Totals

There is likely to be a huge north/south accumulation spread/differential in the area likely. from just flurries/light snow north toward Rockford to a foot and possibly more South.

Full list: Warming centers in Cook County 

It will be a stunning variation in snowfalls, with extremely limited snowfall if any snow at all northwest of the Chicago — toward Rockford, for instance.

Full forecast details and more at the WGN Weather Center blog

Historic Snows in Chicagoland

Feb. 1 marks the 11 year anniversary of the infamous Groundhogs Day blizzard of 2011. That’s the storm which arrived with 70 mph winds gusts and thundersnow which, together, produced mammoth drifts and led to colossal traffic jam on Lakeshore Drive which trapped some motorists for 12 or more hours. It produced 21.2″ of snow in Chicago.

Three of Chicago’s five top snowstorms have occurred in this January/early February period, so to have a winter storm on its way at this time of year is hardly an anomaly.

All of us who have lived in the area for some time remember the Jane Bryne/Michael Bilandic Blizzard of ’79 which hit with 20.3 inches on Jan. 14 to Jan. 15, 1979 and the infamous Blizzard of ’67 and its 23 inches of snow which literally shut the city down stranding buses and car on area thoroughfares.

The incoming storm will include strengthening winds. “NNE” wind gusts are to build to 40 mph adding to area weather woes–but won’t reach the 70 mph velocities observed in the 2011 Groundhogs Day storm.