Weather Updates

Winter storm arrives in Chicago area

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Updated: April 28, 2013 2:20AM

Get the shovel and get ready to do some heavy lifting.

Three to seven inches of wet, slushy “heart attack” snow were forecast to fall on the Chicago area Tuesday night, according to the National Weather Service.

Sleet and freezing rain hit the area mid-morning Tuesday, turned to snow in the afternoon and snarled traffic during the evening rush.

Chicago’s airports airlines canceled more than 330 flights at O’Hare and 170 flights at Midway as of late Tuesday afternoon, while hundreds more flights were delayed up to 60 minutes, according to the Department of Aviation.

The storm also prompted the cancellation of six state basketball tournament regional games being hosted by Chicago Public Schools, while many other school systems closed early or canceled after-school activities and evening classes.

Hardest hit were the far north and northwest suburbs in Lake and McHenry counties, where four to six inches of snow had fallen by 4 p.m. and wind gusts from 35 to 40 miles-per-hour whipped the falling snow into white-out conditions.

“I-88 and north got the heaviest snow,” said Weather Service meteorologist Richard Castro.

In Bull Valley in McHenry County, 2.1 inches fell in one hour and plows were not able to keep up with blowing and drifting snow, according to a National Weather Service spotter. The Bull Valley Police department reported numerous accidents and vehicles stranded in the snow.

And while most of the snow was expected to fall by Wednesday morning, an additional one to three inches could come down throughout the day, according to the Weather Service.

If the snow does taper off, Chicago’s arterial streets should be mostly clear by the Wednesday morning rush and plows will begin tackling side streets in the morning. “We’ll work on the main roads until the snow subsides, then turn to the residential streets,” said Streets and Sanitation spokesman Anne Sheahan.

The department’s Snow Command full fleet of 284 snowplows hit the streets, while the Illinois Tollway mobilized all of its 182 snowplows and canceled all temporary lane closures through 7 a.m. Thursday morning.

The Weather Service urged people to take it easy when shoveling the wet, heavy stuff it described as “heart attack” snow: “Due to the weight of the snow caution should be exercised top not overexert oneself during shoveling,” the advisory stated.

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