Lake effect snow causes driving woes, sends plows to streets

CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) - In the end it only amounted to a trace in most areas, but as a lake effect snow band wound its way from northwest Indiana up the Chicago shoreline on Friday morning, driving conditions were anything but perfect.

More than 200 snowplows were sent into Chicago’s streets Friday as the early-season snowfall made downtown and other parts of the city look more like mid-December than early November as high winds whipped the light snow into sometimes blinding conditions.

That made for some dicey, not quite icy, conditions on area roadways. While there no major accidents reported, there were enough fender benders to keep police busy across the area.

A crash on the Kennedy at Pulaski blocked all inbound express lanes for a short time, and another crash on the Kennedy at North involved three semi trucks, and forced a brief closure so salt could be spread in the area.

Illinois State Police said icy conditions forced closure of the ramp from the outbound Eisenhower to the Day Ryan; and several crashes were reported on Eisenhower, none involving injuries.

Police in Niles closed Dempster Street at the Milwaukee underpass for several hours, citing “icy conditions” that made the road “extremely hazardous” and led to “numerous crashes.” The road was reopened after crews salted down the underpass.

A vehicle also rolled over on Route 53 in Palatine.

ISP implemented its “snow emergency plan,” meaning drivers involved in accidents whose vehicles are still operable should keep going and file a report later.

Chicago Police also responded to fender-benders, but no injury accidents were reported.

The city Department of Streets and Sanitation sent 210 plows to salt and plow arterial routes after the National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook calling for up to an inch of snow for northern Illinois.

While forecasters had called for up to an inch of snow, in the end there was only a dusting, a trace or less than a tenth of an inch, according to the National Weather Service. And by about 3 p.m., with the winds shifting, it was all over.

While the snow didn’t amount to much, the cold was another story. Friday morning’s low of 18 tied a record set in 1986 in the city. A low of 14 in Rockford broke the record of 15 degrees. The high had only reached 28 by 3 p.m., according to the weather service.

And while it will remain cold over the weekend, the next precipitation in the area will likely be rain or some type of snow/rain mix.

Saturday will be dry with a high near 40 and a low near 35 Saturday night. Sunday will again reach 40, but there is a chance of light rain, drizzle or wintry mix, depending on the timing. Monday’s high will be 44 and Tuesday’s high could be near 50, with another chance of rain Tuesday evening through Wednesday.