Garble, garble, garble.
They were the sounds made by the well-insulated mouth (thick pink coat, zipped all the way up) of seven year-old Jillian Ziliak when asked about the weather Tuesday morning on a North Side sidewalk.
“She said she wants to go sledding,” said her father and interpreter, Zach Ziliak, who carried the little redhead on his shoulders — perhaps the cutest and most economical form of travel through a snowstorm.
A few blocks away, a clean blanket of snow waited to be punctured by inaccurate golf balls at the Diversey Driving Range — which was open for business.
Buckets of golf balls sold (at $16) as of 10 a.m. Monday: zero.
“I can wipe off a mat for you. Want to hit some balls?” asked lonely pro-shop employee Alex Gelabert.
Outside the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field, Harry Caray’s statue — wearing a layer of white, arms outstretched — took on a “Game of Thrones” White Walker feel.
To the east, one lakefront runner slowed down long enough to insist she wasn’t punishing herself due to guilty calories of foie gras and French silk pie.
Joel Rickert felt the way many do when a reporter asked him about the snowy weather.
“I think it speaks for itself,” said Rickert, 33, standing at a bus stop at Sheridan and Irving Park.
But even for Chicagoans used to snowy, gridlocked traffic, wet socks and frozen windshield wipers, there was an undeniable novelty in the accumulation during a winter season that had been slim on snowfall.
Up to 10 inches of snow could pile up by midday Tuesday as a lake-effect snow system that started Monday night moves through the Chicago area, forecasters said. The lake-effect warning is in effect until 4 p.m. Tuesday in Cook, DuPage and Lake counties. In northwest Indiana, the warning is in effect until 1 a.m. Wednesday.
At a 2 p.m. news conference held at the city’s Near West Side 911 call center, Charles Williams, head of the Department of Streets and Sanitation, said 287 plows were making their way into neighborhood side streets.
“We anticipate the [snow] system moving out the city by about 4 p.m.,” he said.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel thanked salt truck and plow truck drivers for their hard work and noted they were working as quickly as possible.
“We’re racing a bit against time because the temperatures will drop precipitously this evening, so we want to get that snow out of there before it freezes over,” Emanuel said.
Williams said that 7.6 inches of snow had fallen at O’Hare Airport and 8.2 inches — a new record for the date — had fallen at Midway Airport.
The lake-effect band that started between 7 and 8 p.m. Monday in the northern suburbs had dropped 8.5 inches in Waukegan by early Tuesday, NWS meteorologist Casey Sullivan said. That band moved into northern Cook County by 4:45 a.m., and another band was expected to form somewhere in the area later in the morning.
Slick road conditions Monday night were thought to be responsible for two separate chain-reaction crashes, involving a total of 35 vehicles, in the inbound express lanes of Interstate 90/94 between North Avenue and Division Street. Seven people were taken to the hospital with injuries that were not thought to be life-threatening, while 23 people refused medical attention.
As of 7:20 a.m. Tuesday, 422 flights had been canceled at O’Hare, and 81 were grounded at Midway International Airport, according to the city’s Department of Aviation. Delays at both airports were averaging 15 minutes or less.
Chicago’s 287 snow plows hit the streets Monday night, clearing main arteries before heading to residential blocks, according to the city’s Dept. of Streets and Sanitation. Residents can monitor the snow plow fleet in real time on the city’s website.
At midnight Monday, this winter’s snowfall totaled 22.8 inches, the weather service said. That number is well below the seasonal average of 32.2 inches, which could be within striking distance if the lake-effect system packs its full punch.
Contributing: Sun-Times Wire