CHICAGO — Heavy snows and strong winds moved through the region Sunday evening, causing dangerous travel conditions on a busy day on the roads.
A Blizzard Warning is now in effect in Cook County and the Chicagoland area, as well as DuPage, Will, Grundy, Lake, McHenry, DeKalb, Kane, Kendall and LaSalle counties through Monday morning. The winter weather has already caused the cancellation of over 800 flights out of O'Hare and Midway airports.
Tom Skilling is tracking the storm as it crosses through Chicagoland. As of 9 p.m. Sunday, snow has increased in intensity and shifted a little farther east and south of Chicago. Several instances of 10 inches or more have been reported in Forreston, Woodstock, Bull Valley and Rockford.
Storms brought up to 2 inches of snow per hour and winds as high as 40 to 50 mph, causing whiteout conditions on the roads. In a statement, the Illinois State Police echoed this sentiment, saying drivers should only take to the roads if it is "absolutely necessary."
"Our Troopers will be working around the clock to divert tragedies and keep our motorists safe. We are asking that you do your part, by driving at a safe speed, don’t drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, keep your distractions down and wear your seatbelts," the ISP said in the statement.
In Chicago, the Department of Streets and Sanitation deployed 287 of its 300 snow vehicles, including plows and salt spreaders, according to the department. Trucks are focusing on major arterial routes and Lake Shore Drive first, and will transition to residential streets "as needed."
This is not a storm to mess with, as it causes dangerous conditions on the roads while dumping so-called "heart attack snow," which is very wet, heavy, and hard to shovel. The heavy snow can also cause tree branches to fall and break, damaging power lines and knocking out power in some areas.
ComEd reports 20,000 customers without power in the entire north region of Illinois, with the hardest-hit areas west of I-39 and in Streamwood, Palatine and Schaumburg.
The bulk of the snow is expected to fall Sunday evening, which could also potentially affect the Monday morning commute.
For the latest weather updates, visit wgntv.com/weather.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and officials speak about preparations for snow in Chicago during a Sunday press conference