Airlines cancel over 1,200 flights in Chicago as winter storm hits

Airlines canceled over 1,200 flights in Chicago Saturday morning as a major winter storm began to move through the area, bringing freezing rain and high waves with snow expected later in the day.

By 3:50 p.m., the Chicago Department of Aviation reported at least 1,124 flights canceled at O’Hare International Airport and 88 flights canceled at Midway International Airport.

Delays at O’Hare and Midway averaged 25 and 15 minutes, respectively, the department said.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch from Friday night through Saturday night, affecting northern Cook County and north and west of downtown.

The precipitation was gradually transitioning from rain to snow Saturday afternoon, the weather service said. Wind gusts as high as 55 mph have already been recorded and waves as high as 20-feet tall ravaged the shores of Cook County.

Snow in excess of 3 inches is possible Saturday evening, with the highest amounts over northern Cook County, the weather service said.

The Department of Streets and Sanitation deployed over 200 snow vehicles to spread salt over “arterial routes and Lake Shore Drive” before traveling to residential streets, the agency said.

Drivers are advised to use caution, the weather service said.

Cook County officials urged residents to be cautious during the storm by steering clear of flooded roadways, bringing loose items indoors and avoiding the Lake Michigan shoreline.