ILLINOIS — As several inches of snow fall in the Chicago area, motorists continue to be urged to stay off the roads as much as possible on Wednesday as heavier wet snow is expected to affect travel.
Wednesday’s heaviest snow is expected during the morning commute, according to the National Weather Service (NWS), with an inch to an inch and a half of snow per hour during the worst part of the winter storm.
The snow is expected to gradually recede from west to east, although roads will remain slippery and “covered in snow” in the meantime, the NWS noted.
“I strongly advise you to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary,” Gov. JB Pritzker said Tuesday. “Across the state, we have over 1,800 trucks and plows ready to go.”
The governor issued a disaster declaration, clearing the way for the National Guard to provide assistance during the storm.
The Illinois Department of Transportation tweeted a map of state highways Wednesday morning, noting that many were covered in ice or snow.
At 6 a.m. Wednesday, Illinois State Police said westbound Interstate 74 was closed at mile post 158 due to “multiple accidents and unsafe conditions.” Traffic had been diverted onto US Route 150.
Southbound I-55 was also closed at mile marker 178 due to crashes, the ISP added, that are expected to last several hours.
In Chicago, the city’s Streets and Sanitation Department deployed its fleet of more than 200 salt spreaders and plows to help keep arteries, as well as DuSable Lake Shore Drive, as clear as possible.
The Illinois Tollway also uses its entire fleet of snow removal vehicles and salt spreaders, officials say.
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Even as snowplows scramble to keep roads clear, residents are still urged to postpone unnecessary travel or use public transportation when possible.
The Chicago Transit Authority said it is working to keep the tracks clear and will continue to deploy resources to facilitate the morning commute on Wednesday.
The CTA announced that most train services will continue to operate Wednesday in winter weather conditions, in addition to some signaling issues on the Green Line.
Metra said no changes were made due to weather conditions and the schedules would remain in effect. However, Metra noted that some train lines may experience delays.
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By 6 a.m. Wednesday morning, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport had canceled 299 flights, along with 78 canceled flights at Midway, according to the most recent data. Most delays were less than 15 minutes.
If it is absolutely necessary for you to get out and travel on the roads, the authorities recommend that you follow these tips:
- Slow down considerably and go easy, especially when approaching intersections, ramps, bridges and shaded areas prone to icing.
- Make sure your gas tank is full.
- Keep a cell phone, warm clothes, blankets, food, water, first aid kit, washing up liquid and an ice scraper in your vehicle. Dial *999 in the Chicago area for emergency assistance.
- If you are involved in an accident or breakdown, stay inside your vehicle, which is your safest shelter.
- Tell your friends and relatives about your travel schedule and the route you plan to take.