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1000 flights canceled during winter storm; lake effect snow expected

A woman walks on the sidewalk on Broadway Street, while a Winter Storm batters Chicago, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, in Chicago. | Tyler LaRiviere

Heavy snow, high winds and frigid temperatures pummeled the Chicago area in the region’s first winter storm of 2019, causing more than 1000 flight cancelations by Saturday afternoon.

Friday night’s storm pushed into northern Illinois overnight and dumped 5 inches of snow by noon Saturday at O’Hare International Airport, and 5.3 inches at Midway International Airport, the weather service said. About 8.5 inches of snowfall was reported in northwest suburban Palatine.

The snowy weather was apparently responsible for a United Airlines jet skidding off a runway at O’Hare International Airport Saturday afternoon. No one was reported injured.

Air travel suffered disruptions, with O’Hare Airport reporting 1044 flight cancelations by 5 p.m. Saturday, and Midway reporting 86 cancelations, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation.

Additional lake effect snow was expected overnight Saturday into Sunday morning as wind chills plunged below zero, according to a Winter Weather Advisory issued Saturday evening.

Drivers faced a dangerous Saturday morning commute, with the worst hazards, including ice-covered roads and gusts up to 35 mph, mainly north of I-88, the weather service said.

The storm tapered off by noon Saturday, with snow totals reaching the bottom end of the predicted 5 to 9 inches of snowfall, the weather service said.

A lakeshore flood warning was in effect until 9 a.m. Sunday, with waves in Lake Michigan possibly reaching 10 feet high, the weather service said. People were warned to stay away from piers, jetties and the bike path.

Daytime high temperatures hovered in the upper 20s on Friday and were forecasted to plummet to 12 degrees overnight Saturday, the weather service said. Sunday’s expected high is 17 degrees.

Temperatures could plunge into single-digits Sunday night, with a high near 19 expected on Monday, the weather service said. Wind chills could fall to 18 degrees below zero over the weekend, with temperatures staying below 20 until at least Thursday.

Saturday night, Chicago’s Department of Streets and Sanitation deployed 287 plows and salt trucks, the department said. Crews worked on arterial routes and Lake Shore Drive before moving to residential streets about noon Saturday.

Darryl Levine shoves his and his neighbors sidewalks, while a Winter Storm batters Chicago, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, in Chicago. | Tyler LaRiviere

Friday evening, the Chicago Skyway ramp to the Dan Ryan Expressway closed due to weather conditions, IDOT said.

In anticipation of the snow, Amtrak canceled Saturday service of its Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited lines, which connect Chicago to Washington D.C. and New York.

Nicor Gas officials said residents should use caution when removing snow or ice from gas meters, and call 911 or Nicor’s 24-hour emergency line at (888) 642-6748 to report gas leaks.

Chicagoans who need to get out of the cold can call 311 for information about the nearest warming center or overnight shelter. Cook County officials have also released a list of suburban warming centers. State officials also provide information about warming centers online, or at (847) 411-9276.

A woman walks down Glenlake Avenue towards North Clark Street, while a Winter Storm batters Chicago, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, in Chicago. | Tyler LaRiviere