Winter storm warning set for Sunday; 6 to 12 inches of snow possible

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Snowfall was predicted to be greatest northwest of Interstate 55 | National Weather Service

CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) - A winter storm is expected to move through the Chicago area Sunday, potentially causing white-out conditions and dumping a half-foot of snow as millions of travelers head home at the end of the holiday weekend.

The affected areas include Cook, DuPage, Kendall, Grundy and Will counties, the National Weather Service said in a winter storm warning. Heavy snow and gusts up to 50 mph were forecast from 10 a.m. Sunday till 4 a.m. Monday.

Snow might fall as fast as two inches per hour and cause periodic life-threatening blizzard conditions, according to the weather service. The heaviest snowfall is expected in the northwest suburbs.

The window for safe travel in Chicago could extend into the early to mid-afternoon Sunday, especially in the southwest suburbs, according to the weather service’s latest forecast.

Travelers were told to beware of rain transitioning with little notice into heavy, wet snow on Sunday afternoon.

Drivers should use extreme caution on snow-covered roads and in reduced visibility, the weather service said. Shovelers were warned to avoid overexertion.

“This storm is expected to hit at a time when millions of people are on the roads, heading home after visiting friends and family,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn said in a statement. “Please take all necessary precautions, including altering travel plans to leave early or asking yourself if your trip can wait.”

The snowfall was forecast to taper off before Monday’s commute.

Lakeshore flooding was expected to coincide with the storm. Waves has high as 16 feet are expected in Cook County due to abnormally high lake levels combined with 50 mph winds, the weather service said.

The lakeshore flood warning begins 9 p.m. Sunday and lasts until noon on Monday. Residents near the shore were warned to stay off piers, jetties and breakwalls.

Temperatures should drop to the mid 30s Sunday and then dip into the 20s that evening, according to the weather service.

Monday was forecast to be partly sunny with the temperature reaching a high of about 30 degrees and then dipping into the teens that evening.