Snow Blankets Chicago Area With Half a Foot in Some Places; Round Two Now Expected Overnight

Snow blankets Chicago, Jan. 12, 2024. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)Snow blankets Chicago, Jan. 12, 2024. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Snow blanketed the Chicago region Friday morning, as a large swath of northern Illinois remains under a winter storm warning until noon Saturday.

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Preliminary snow totals Friday morning generally ranged from 2 to 6 inches, with southwest suburban Lockport notching 7.5 inches. Though Chicago was largely spared from the impacts of a winter storm earlier in the week, Friday’s weather system struck the city as well. As of noon, 3.4 inches of snow had been recorded at O’Hare and 3.8 inches were measured at Midway Airport.

With temperatures persisting above the freezing mark, precipitation largely fell as rain during the afternoon hours.

Meteorologist Brett Borchardt provided an updated forecast Friday afternoon from the Chicago office of the National Weather Service. Much of the region will dry out for a few hours in the early evening, with the next significant batch of accumulating snow arriving overnight, he said.

For Chicago, the main window of snowfall will be midnight to 4 a.m., with an expected additional accumulation of 1 to 2 inches, Borchardt said.

High winds could create brief localized blizzard-like conditions in rural and open areas, he said.

Those winds could affect power lines, much like they did Friday morning, when ComEd reporting numerous outages. Gale force winds topping 50 miles per hour have been recorded at Chicago’s Lake Michigan station

Speaking at a city of Chicago media briefing early Friday afternoon, ComEd CEO Gil Quiniones said approximately 20,000 Chicago customers were without power Friday morning and 76,000 customers across northern Illinois. Crews were working to restore service, and anyone experiencing an outage can report it by texting “out” to 26633, Quiniones said.

The Illinois Department of Transportation maintains an updated map of travel conditions for those who have to hit the roads. The Illinois Tollway also provides real-time information online and via social media

The Department of Streets and Sanitation has nearly 300 salt spreaders on Chicago streets, according to Commissioner Cole Stallard. As Streets and San crews work to plow streets, Stallard asked residents to help when shoveling by heaving snow into the parkway, not streets.

Annette Nance-Holt, commissioner of the Chicago Fire Department, likewise asked Chicagoans to keep hydrants clear when shoveling.

Service on the CTA’s recently reopened Yellow Line was halted Friday morning due to debris on the tracks. Shuttle buses were providing connecting service between the Howard and Skokie/Dempster stations.

The transit agency also was also reporting some morning bus delays as select buses were rerouted away from DuSable Lake Shore Drive due to icy conditions, according to service alerts.

As of 1 p.m., there were 824 flights canceled at O’Hare International Airport and another 276 at Midway Airport, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation. Many more delays were reported. 

Though Chicago Public Schools is in session for classes Friday, the district has canceled CPS-managed after-school and out-of-school programs for Friday and Saturday. Numerous suburban districts either canceled classes Friday or shifted to remote learning. The status for area districts is posted online

Institutions, including Brookfield Zoo, announced closures on Friday; people should call venues in advance to confirm whether they’re open before heading out the door.

Snow will taper off Saturday, followed by an arctic blast that will send temperatures plummeting to overnight lows well below zero on Sunday.

While snow systems have been unpredictable this week, meteorologists have high confidence in the deep freeze, according to Borchardt.

“The cold is coming,” he said.

Matt Beaudet, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Buildings, reminded residents of the city’s heat ordinance, which requires landlords to maintain temperatures of 68 degrees between 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 p.m., and 66 degrees overnight. Call 311 if experiencing a lack of heat indoors, Beaudet said, adding that inspectors will be on the job over the weekend and on Monday's Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.

“Do not use ovens or stoves as heating,” Beaudet said, a warning echoed by Fire Commissioner Nance-Holt.

Chicago Public Schools said it will announce a decision in the coming days regarding scheduled activities on Monday and whether classes will be in session on Tuesday.

More winter weather coverage: 

Contact Patty Wetli: @pattywetli | (773) 509-5623 |  [email protected]

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