UPDATE: The Ice Storm Warning has been canceled -- but, a Winter Weather Advisory for freezing drizzle continues in effect until 9 a.m. Wednesday for most of the Chicago area west of Chicago and I-55.
Then at 6 p.m. Wednesday into Thursday, another Winter Storm Advisory for freezing rain and sleet has been issued for the area west and north of Chicago and along and north of Interstate-88. Read more here
CHICAGO — An Ice Storm Warning is in effect and will continue until 6 a.m. Wednesday for most of the Chicago area.
As of 11 p.m. Tuesday, temperatures hovered around 32 degrees. Freezing rain was collecting on trees and bushes, as well as forming a layer of glaze on untreated surfaces such as streets, sidewalks, driveways, parking lots and vehicles. Treated roads and highways can also have slick spots. Travel or outdoor activities will continue to be very hazardous.
The last time there was an Ice Storm Warning in the Chicago area was December 2009. Roadways were iced over, making for dangerous road conditions.
Power lines were pulled down, as ice accumulations can increase the overall weight held up by the lines by up to 500 pounds. Just a quarter of an inch of ice can increase the weight of a tree branch by up to 30 times.
"It's been a long time so people, their guards down, they haven't experienced it," said Joe Lomanto, the owner of Lakeview Ace Hardware. "So really hold on to railings, know where you're going, you may once again not see it, and with black ice you could really go down quickly."
By 11 p.m., the heaviest rains and embedded thunder had mostly moved east or were in the process of moving east into northwest Indiana. Light freezing rain and drizzle will likely continue for several hours. Ice accumulations of a quarter-inch or more will be widespread. The highest ice accumulations will be north and west of a line from near Mendota to Oswego.
If you need to drive, be cautious into the morning hours. The morning commute will likely impacted. Drive slowly and be alert for others not being able to stop or retain footing.
Ice Storm Warning in Effect
Freezing rain possibly mixed with sleet and wet snow early in the process will overspread most of the Chicago area Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning, beginning in the westernmost sections later this afternoon. Ice accumulations of a quarter-inch or more will make travel or outdoor activity extremely dangerous, especially on untreated surfaces. Accumulation of ice will likely damage trees and cause downed power lines leading to power outages.
Temperatures will be warm enough in central Illinois to have that area experience all rain, but readings will hover below freezing (25 to 30-degrees) most of the area north of roughly a Pontiac to Kankakee to Valparaiso line. A Winter Weather Advisory for Freezing Rain (purple-shaded area on the headlined map) is in effect to show a transition from the warmer rain area to the south and the colder freezing rain/sleet area to the north. Rain should end from the west early Wednesday morning.
Slippery dangers on the roads and rails
Unlike snow, where you can see a few inches of accumulation, ice can bring hidden dangers.
The Illinois Tollway is mobilizing its fleet of 196 plows to spread salt, brine and de-icing materials ahead of the storm Tuesday night, according to a statement. Trucks will be on the roads through Wednesday morning. The Tollway will also be reporting on icy road conditions on Twitter and on its website.
For crashes where no injuries are involved, the Tollway advises drivers to report the incident to authorities by calling 630-241-6800 ext. 5042, and continue driving.
Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications says it’s ready too, and 300 ice-fighting trucks will be hitting the streets in the city.
“People should anticipate the potential for black ice on our streets," said OEMC Director Rich Guidice.
Guidice said OEMC will also be working with ComEd overnight to respond to any issues with downed power lines. Anyone who spots such issues should call 3-1-1, Guidice said.
The Pace bus company is advising customers to postpone any "unnecessary travel," but if they do head out, to watch where they're going, move slowly, take short steps and "walk flat-footed" to avoid falling on ice-covered roads.
Metra is mobilizing additional crews to salt sidewalks and parking lots, and will be running the Metra Electric Line overnight to prevent ice buildup.
Preparing for an ice storm
There are a few things you can do to prepare.
Put down salt on the sidewalks before the storm, then when the ice comes down, the salt will help melt it.
For your car, there's a more concentrated solution for de-icing your windshield that will help speed up the process. They also sell de-icer for frozen locks, just insert in the key hole and it'll help break up what's frozen.
If you're in a pinch, good old-fashioned hand sanitizer works similarly as well.