The National Weather Service has updated the Winter Storm Warning that will remain active until midnight tonight for the Chicago-area. The first alert for Winter Storm Saturn leaned toward the conservative side, but after a revision this morning, snow accumulations are expected to be more than originally thought. Let this weigh heavily on your decision to travel today, and especially this evening.
Here is the updated weather report for Chicago:
The Chicago-area is still projecting to get between 7-10 inches of snow, but forecasters have increased the possibility to a foot of snow in some areas. The storm rolled in this morning, and has already dumped an average of 4-5 inches over the Chicago-area as of the 3 p.m. reading, according to the WGN Weather Team. Many Chicago areas have seen over 5 inches already, and as of 12 p.m., 5.8 inches of snow had fallen at the Rockford airport.
The snow will continue to fall at a rate of 1-2 inches per hour until 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., when it will begin to taper off. Tuesday night. Temperatures are hovering in the low 30s with a low of 26 for Tuesday night. Wednesday’s high is 34 with a few snow flurries, but nothing that will accumulate.
The winds are expected to increase from a gusty 15 mph to 25 mph, making visibility very low for commuters. The current visibility is between ¼ and a ½ mile, and is expected to decrease this evening, so be sure to allow plenty of room in front of you in case of an emergency stop.
The major roads are currently slushy, but the side roads are snow covered. Expect slick roads, and because of the rate of snowfall, beware of hydroplaning in the outside lanes. Water is accumulating on major roads like Lake Shore Drive.
The travel advisories are warning people not to travel, and only to get on the roads for emergencies. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has echoed this warning not to get on the roads by saying, “safety comes first.” Many schools have closed across the area in anticipation of the evening commute, and many that are open have noted they will be closing early. For a full list of area closings, click here. In addition, O’Hare and Midway have cancelled 1000 flights, so check your flight before heading to the airport.
With that said, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel is working to ease resident’s worries by saying, “We are prepared as a city to deal with this snow, and we have all the resources of the city available to make sure that our residents are safe, secure, but also able, with time and planning, to get where they need to go.” And judging by the lack of snow on the major roads, it seems he is sticking to his word.
Winter Storm Saturn, or as the Washington Post calls it, Snowquester, has turned a somewhat dry winter in Chicago into a typical one. According to National Weather Service Meteorologist Amy Seely, “This will be the biggest widespread storm of the winter.” It is also turning out to be the most snowfall Chicago has seen since the 2011 blizzard.
Janoa Taylor is a freelance writer with a background in business and finance. She offers a unique local perspective gained from years as a Chicago resident.