Freezing rain, sleet make for slippery travel, cancellations at O'Hare, Midway

SUN-TIMES MEDIA WIRE - Freezing rain, sleet and snow have moved through the Chicago area Sunday, leading to slippery and potentially dangerous roads and hundreds of cancellations at O’Hare and Midway International Airports.

A winter weather advisory remains in effect until 3 a.m. Monday in much of northern Illinois and northwest Indiana, according to the National Weather Service. The forecast calls for a mix of freezing rain coupled with light sleet and wet snow into the evening hours.

Snow accumulation of up to one inch is expected throughout the day, with the possibility of up to a tenth of an inch of accumulated ice, the weather service said.

At O’Hare, 175 flights had been canceled by 6 p.m. and delays averaged about 50 minutes, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation. Almost 40 flights had been canceled at Midway, and flights were delayed by less than 15 minutes.

“Many of those were proactively canceled due to projected weather conditions in the Chicago area and across the country,” a Department of Aviation spokeswoman said.

On the ground, the conditions had the potential to make for “treacherous” driving conditions throughout Sunday afternoon and into the overnight hours due to the possibility for icy roads, the Illinois Department of Transportation warned.

“If you are going to be traveling, you should first ask yourself if your trip is necessary before heading out,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn said in a statement. “We are working hard to make our roads safe and passable, but conditions are expected to be challenging.”

“We are asking the public to please plan ahead, slow down and expect much longer than usual travel times,” Blankenhore added.

Throughout the state, IDOT crews pretreated bridges, overpasses and ramps, which are the areas post susceptible to icy conditions, IDOT said. The agency made more than 1,700 trucks available, as well as other equipment to salt and treat roads.

The Illinois Tollway also deployed its full fleet of 196 snowplows to keep roadways clear of ice and snow, according to a statement from the agency.

Drivers whose vehicles become disabled should turn on their hazard lights and dial *999 for assistance from Illinois State Police, Tollway officials said.

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Sunday’s high temperature is expected to reach 30 degrees, giving Chicagoans a reprieve from the crippling cold that stuck around through much of the holiday season, according to the National Weather Service. The mild temperatures are expected to continue moving through the area for much of the week, with the possibility for a high in the 50s on Thursday.