Expect a ‘relatively normal’ commute after historic blizzard

SHARE Expect a ‘relatively normal’ commute after historic blizzard

Motorists can expect a “relatively normal” drive home Monday afternoon as the city continues to dig out from the first blizzard of the season. But more than a foot-and-a-half of snow prompted a flurry of flight cancellations Monday, including more than 1,100 flights at Chicago’s two airports.

As of 6 a.m. Monday, 19.3 inches of snow had fallen in Chicago, making it the city’s fifth-largest snowstorm ever, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Gino Izzi.

“Our city experienced a historic snowfall with blizzard conditions over the last few days and it’s clear that Chicagoans are rising to the challenge,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a prepared statement. “I ask everyone to keep exercising good judgment and to check on the well-being of family, friends and neighbors.”

RELATED: CPS back in session Tuesday as snow cleanup continues I-294 reopened after pileup involving 30 vehicles This timelapse video shows just how much snow fell in Chicago

Nearly 12 inches fell in southwest suburban Yorkville, while northwest suburban Harvard saw 15 inches of snow, the weather service said. South suburban Sauk Village in Cook County was socked with 20 inches of the white stuff, while Roselle in west suburban DuPage county saw 18 inches, the weather service said. In northwest Indiana, LaPorte got 20.9 inches.

Jim Croke of Sandberg Village works to free his car from the snow near Schiller and Clark. | Al Podgorski / Sun-Times Media

Jim Croke of Sandberg Village works to free his car from the snow near Schiller and Clark. | Al Podgorski / Sun-Times Media

In spite of the snow, commuters heading home this evening should see a “relatively normal” commute, Illinois Department of Transportation spokesman Guy Tridgell said. IDOT’s full fleet of trucks are clearing roadways, and traffic volumes are very light, likely because many people chose to stay home, Tridgell said.

“We anticipate this evening’s rush should be relatively normal. Still, it’s always a good idea to build additional time into your schedules,” he said.

The express lanes of the Kennedy Expressway were closed earlier in the day for snow removal, but IDOT plans to open them to the usual outbound traffic later Monday afternoon, Tridgell said.

A 30-car pileup snarled traffic on the Tri-State Tollway near Hickory Hills Monday morning, but all lanes have been reopened as of 3 p.m., State Police said.

Divvy bikes sit covered in snow near Franklin and Lake. | Al Podgorski / Sun-Times Media

Divvy bikes sit covered in snow near Franklin and Lake. | Al Podgorski / Sun-Times Media

As the temperature continues to drop Monday, drivers should be careful on wet pavement that can freeze overnight and create slippery conditions, Tridgell said.

Metra says the rail agency also expects to have regular rush-hour service for passengers Monday evening.

“We can’t guarantee there won’t be any delays, but we’re doing everything we can to minimize them,” said spokeswoman Meg Reile.

Extra crews are stationed at major switching points to address problems right away if they occur, Reile said. Metra has also called in additional personnel to help clear platforms, man key locations and help keep rail yards running smoothly.

The CTA is anticipating normal weekday service Monday afternoon, with all train and bus lines operating during the evening rush, the city said. Riders should still allow extra travel time and look for updated travel information on the CTA’s website, transitchicago.com.

Commuters slug through the snow near Franklin and Wacker. | Al Podgorski/Sun-Times Media

Commuters slug through the snow near Franklin and Wacker. | Al Podgorski/Sun-Times Media

Travelers to Chicago’s airports Monday evening might not be so lucky. O’Hare is still seeing delays of about 20 minutes because of the blizzard, and airlines there canceled 1,060 flights Monday, the city’s Department of Aviation said.

At Midway, most flights are on time, but 195 flights have been canceled, the department said.

Amtrak reported two cancellations; trains to Quincy (the Carl Sandburg and Illinois Zephyr) will not run on Monday. Other than that, there were some delays but no major problems, an Amtrak spokesman said.

Classes at Chicago Public Schools were closed Monday because of the snowstorm, but will reopen Tuesday, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

After about 36 hours of focusing on main thoroughfares, city plow crews turned their attention to neighborhood streets Monday morning, and plows will continue to monitor road conditions on arterial streets throughout the day.

In all, about 500 pieces of snow-removal equipment — 350 snow plows and salt spreaders and 150 pieces of heavy equipment — were deployed to clear streets and remove snow piles, paying extra attention to snow around hospitals, police and fire stations, and schools.

The rest of Monday will be cold, with low temperatures in the single digits overnight, and wind chills between zero and minus-10, the National Weather Service said. Tuesday will see highs in the mid-20s, but another round of snow is likely to drop another 1-2 inches of snow in the evening.

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