December 20, 2012
A winter storm zeroing in on Chicago caused hundreds of flight cancellations Thursday and near-blizzard conditions are possible during rush hour.
The National Weather Service is expecting intense snowfall and high winds to move into the Chicago area Thursday afternoon, prompting a winter storm warning lasting until 3 a.m. Friday.
The city had gone 290 days without significant snow accumulation through Wednesday.
Rain is expected to change to snow late Thursday afternoon with the heaviest snowfall, strongest winds and lowest visibility between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m., according to the weather service. Two to six inches of accumulation is likely, and possibly more in the northern suburbs and northwest Indiana.
Wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour could cause blowing and drifting snow throughout the night.
The falling temperatures and near-blizzard conditions will cause roads to become snow covered and make rush hour travel "treacherous," according to the weather service.
The Illinois Tollway said it mobilized its full fleet of 182 snowplows in preparation for the storm. It has also canceled all temporary lane closures through Dec. 26 to help with snow removal.
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"This weather event is expected to impact most of the Tollway system -- from Rockford to Chicago -- resulting in rapidly deteriorating driving conditions across the entire region," Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur said in a statement. "We urge everyone to stay off the roads this afternoon and evening, if possible, but if you must drive, slow down and allow plenty of extra time for the commute home."
In the air, low visibility caused airlines to cancel nearly 300 flights at O'Hare Airport, according to the city's Department of Aviation. Delays have been averaging between 30 and 90 minutes for both inbound and outbound flights all afternoon as of 3:30 p.m.
At Midway Airport, airlines have canceled more than 150 flights and Southwest Airlines has canceled all of its Midway flights after 4:30 p.m. The airport was reporting "minor delays" Thursday afternoon, according to the Department of Aviation.
Passengers planning to travel on Thursday, and those picking up passengers, should check their airline's website for flight status.
Temperatures are expected to remain in the 20s Friday and will drop into the mid-teens Friday night. The high temperature will only rise to near freezing levels over the weekend.
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CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago aviation officials are reporting delays and more than 350 flight cancellations at O'Hare and Midway international airports as a winter storm bears down on the Midwest.
Most of the weather-related slow-down Thursday was at O'Hare, where some delays stretched to more than two hours.
So far, the region is seeing high winds, rain and fog, which is reducing visibility.
Southwest Airlines has cancelled all its Midway flights after 4:30 p.m.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for the area. Rain will turn to snow by Thursday evening. There could be 2 to 6 inches of snow in the Chicago area, with wind gusts up to 60 mph.
United Airlines and American Airlines are waiving fees for some travelers who want to change their plans.
Copyright © 2012 Associated Press
December 19, 2012
Story by 89 WLS reporter Bill Cameron
(CHICAGO) -- There's a snow storm coming tomorrow and City Hall is claiming to be prepared.
It'll be the first measurable snowfall of the season but the mayor's brand new Streets & Sanitation Commissioner Charles Williams says the snow won't be the worst of it, "It's not the snow. It's the ice! It's important to keep in mind that as those temperatures drop and those streets begin to freeze, you're gonna have very icy conditions. Our plows are out there primarily to take care of the icy conditions."
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