Locals begin digging out after storm dumps 18+ inches of snow

In addition to bitter cold temperatures, over a foot of snow blanketed parts of the Chicago area Monday into Tuesday.

By Tuesday morning, 17.7 inches fell at Midway Airport while less than half of that fell at O’Hare Airport, which got 7.5 inches, according to the National Weather Service. 

The highest Chicago-area total was 18.2 inches of snow in west suburban Oak Park. A close second was Evanston, with 18 inches, according to the weather service. Elsewhere, northwest suburban Harwood Heights logged 12.3 inches and southwest suburban Oak Lawn had 14.5 inches.


The seasonal snowfall in Chicago is now well above normal. About 44.2 inches of snow have fallen at O’Hare this season, which is 18 inches higher than the average for this time of year, according to Weather Service meteorologist Jake Petr.

What’s more, the current seasonal snowfall has already blown past the end of season average of 36.3 inches, he said. Notably, Chicago started off winter with below-average snowfall, with only 8.6 inches before Jan. 25, more than 9 inches below average.

"We were below normal through most of January, and then we started getting these rounds of snow," Peter said. "Winter sometimes has a mind of its own."

Monday’s winter storm was the third snowfall above six inches since January 25, according to the weather service. Added together, the snow depth was 21 inches at O’Hare on Tuesday and 2 feet at Midway.

Chicago also tied a 2018 record for experiencing nine consecutive days of snowfall at O’Hare, the weather service said.

While the snow blew past averages, temperatures remained at bone-chilling levels. Monday peaked at 12 degrees and fell to 1 degree overnight, with windchills at minus 12 degrees, forecasters said.

Tuesday’s high was expected to be 17 degrees. Wind gusts of possible 20 miles an hour Tuesday could make it feel like minus 8 degrees.

The snowstorm also bogged down travelers and commuters. State police said they responded to six crashes Tuesday morning, with injuries reported in three of them. The Chicago Transit Agency also reported several train suspensions Tuesday.

Monday evening, Chicago Public Schools announced that Tuesday’s in-person classes for pre-kindergarten and special education cluster students were canceled due to travel concerns from the significant snowfall. Classes were set to resume Wednesday.

City Colleges of Chicago also canceled in-person classes for Tuesday. The City Colleges’ COVID-19 vaccination sites remained open and all essential employees were still required to report to work.

The Circuit Court of Cook County took steps to limit the number of people traveling to and from the court, according to a statement from the chief judge’s office.

All court proceedings Tuesday were conducted over video conference or teleconference with the exception of bail hearings and certain pretrial matters for in-custody defendants at the Leighton Criminal Court Building and juvenile detention hearings at the Juvenile Center.

Chicago sent out hundreds snow plows to respond to the winter storm that moved across the area. Nearly 300 salt spreaders were focusing on arterial routes and Lake Shore Drive before transitioning to residential streets as needed.

To view the city’s snow fleet in real time, visit www.chicagoshovels.org.

Warming centers in Chicago remained open as temperatures in the city and across the region lingered well below freezing.

Police stations are also available as warming centers.

City-operated testing sites for the coronavirus were closed Tuesday due to the weather conditions.

The snowfall and cold are part of a winter storm that is sending temperatures plunging across the southern Plains and prompted a power emergency in Texas.

Amid the lengthy deep-freeze, teams of outreach workers fanned out across Chicago over the weekend to offer assistance to homeless people.


"These folks are socially isolated by definition," Stephan Koruba, a nurse practitioner with the Night Ministry, told the Chicago Sun-Times. "Just for instance, you come up to someone sleeping and you’re not even sure they’re sleeping under that stack of clothes. You’ve gotta try to get to them before it becomes dangerous and they lose their life."

FOX 32 News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.