Chicago residents, businesses plow on through heaviest snowfall of the season
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Chicago was hit with more than half a foot of snow on Friday, with several more inches expected through the weekend.
By Sunday, some parts of the region will have up to a foot of snow on the ground. But businesses and public transit mostly went on as normal Friday, without major disruptions.
CPS is expected to resume classes as normal Monday after canceling classes on Friday. Other area school districts likewise shut down Friday, typically making the call Thursday night, based on the forecast.
O’Hare had seen 7.3 inches of snow as of noon Friday and Midway had seen 6.8 inches, according to the National Weather Service. Heavy snow was subsiding early Friday evening, but light snow is expected to continue through the weekend.
As of 3:50 p.m. Friday, 999 flights had been canceled at O’Hare International Airport and 316 flights had been canceled at Midway International Airport, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation.
The City of Chicago has deployed its full fleet of 280 snowplows and salt spreaders and will focus on clearing Lake Shore Drive and arterial streets before plowing residential streets, according to a statement from Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office.
The Illinois Department of Transportation said the Kennedy Expressway’s express lanes would be closed for snow removal Friday night and reopen in the inbound direction at 5 a.m. Saturday, when the normal schedule for the reversible lanes will resume.
The CTA experienced a few delays Friday, spokesperson Irene Ferradaz said. No special preparations were needed, she added, just normal winter preparations —shoveling and salting platforms and stairs, equipping railcars with scrapers to keep the electrified rail clear.
“Our service was more or less normal,” Ferradaz said. “Just a few delays here and there.”
Metra spokeswoman Katie Dahlstrom said the transit agency didn’t track exact numbers of passengers, but there seemed to be fewer riders than normal as people chose not to go into work.
Metra reduced its BNSF line to Aurora — its busiest line — from 94 trains to 84 trains Friday to avoid switching moves which can cause delays, according to Dahlstrom. Before the storm hit, Metra also had said it would prepare for the storm by leaving locomotive engines running overnight and putting more mechanics on duty to fix potential problems.
Contributing: Sun-Times Wire