Chicago area wakes up to slippery morning commute as snow continues piling up

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(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Snow began billowing over the Chicago area early Monday, paving roads with a cumbersome layer of snow and ice just in time for the morning commute.

The flurries came overnight and quickly swelled, piling up to 3.1 inches at O’Hare International Airport and 2.9 inches at Midway International Airport by 6 a.m., according to the National Weather Service. In the northwest suburbs, Palatine recorded 5.2 inches.

More snow is expected until 11 a.m., with occasional snowfall and drizzle likely throughout the day, the NWS said. By the end of Monday, the Chicago area will possibly see 4 to 7 inches of snow. The highest accumulation of snowfall, up to 9 inches, is predicted in the northernmost suburbs, close to the Wisconsin border.

As of 6 a.m., the Kennedy and Edens expressways were completely sheathed in ice and snow, while the Dan Ryan Stevenson Expressway were mostly covered, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

The weather service is warning drivers of slick roads throughout Monday, as much of the snowfall is likely to stick given its rapid pace. Blowing snow will also lead to exceptionally poor road vision until 8 a.m. Drivers are advised to leave earlier and allow extra distance between vehicles.

Cook, Kane, DuPage, Will, Grundy, LaSalle and Kendall counties will remain under a winter weather advisory from 9 p.m. Sunday until 6 p.m. Monday, the weather service said. Additionally, Lake and Porter counties in northwest Indiana will be under the same advisory from midnight until 6 p.m. Monday.

Travelers in the air have also been slowed down by the current bout of snowfall.

As of 9 a.m., 626 flights at O’Hare and 196 at Midway International Airport were canceled, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation. O’Hare reported delays averaging 62 minutes, while Midway’s delays averaged less than 15 minutes.

Around the same time, the CTA was reporting delays on its Red, Blue and Yellow lines, all because of congestion following mechanical issues on the train, according to alerts from the transit authority.

Southbound Red Line trains were delayed at the Granville station for about 20 minutes as crews tried to reduce congestion. They began running again about 5:50 a.m., according to CTA alerts.

Metra trains were operating with delays ranging from 10 to 20 minutes, the transit agency tweeted.

The Milwaukee-District West line in particular had a sizable amount of hiccups — two trains were canceled amid mechanical problems, according to an alert. And about 7 a.m., an unscheduled train hit a vehicle on the Northwest Side, though no one was injured.

Amtrak has canceled trains or reduced service frequency on multiple lines serving the Chicago area, including its Illini/Saluki, Lincoln, Wolverine and Hiawatha services, according to an alert from the transit agency. Service changes are in effect for Monday through Thursday.

Dozens of Chicago-area schools, mostly in the north and northwest suburbs, were closed Monday as a result of the heavy snowfall. At least five in Chicago were closed, none of them being in the Chicago Public Schools system, which announced on Sunday that classes would remain in session for now.

On Monday afternoon, the city is expected to enjoy highs in the low 30s, though winds will blow as high as 30 mph, the weather service said.

At night, temperatures in Chicago will dip to 1 degree below zero with similarly swift winds, the NWS said. Windchill values will plunge to minus 17.

Some light snow may hit the area just before midnight, though skies will clear up on Tuesday as northeast Illinois prepares for one of the region’s most brutal cold fronts in decades, the weather service said.

The windchill is expected to drop as low as 44 degrees below zero in the Chicago area between Tuesday night and Wednesday night, according to the National Weather Service.