Snow is piled up Saturday at the Oak Forest Commons shopping center at 159th street and Central Avenue. | Donna Vickroy~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 3, 2014 5:50PM
A winter storm, possibly the biggest of the winter in the Southland, could deliver up to 10 inches of snow Saturday, with the heaviest snowfall expected during the mid- to late morning.
Illinois State Police are dealing with numerous crashes along Interstate 80 including one that has closed all lanes of the Interstate eastbound at Houbolt and Larkin Avenues in Joliet. A State Police press release said drivers should expect delays, but that the road is expected to reopen soon.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for Cook, DuPage, Will, McHenry and Lake counties in Illinois, and Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Jasper and Newton counties in Indiana until 6 p.m. Saturday.
The storm will arrive from the southwest and produce 6 to 10 inches of wet snow, NWS meteorologist Amy Seeley said. That type of snow translates into slippery driving conditions, especially with snow expected to fall between 1 to 2 inches per hour late in the morning.
“We’re in a period where Chicago is seeing some moderate to heavy snowfall during this burst,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Friedlein. “This particular snow is heavy, and is a bit different than what we experienced during the first week of January.”
As of 8:15 a.m. Saturday, airlines at O’Hare International Airport had canceled 350 flights due to winter weather conditions, while 100 flights were canceled at Midway International Airport, the city’s Department of Aviation said.
Warmer temperatures are a result of air pushed up from the Gulf of Mexico, Friedlein said.
“This snow is a little bit different than the Alberta Clipper; that was a system that came from Canada,” Friedlein said. “The mix we’re getting now is from the Gulf, which won’t bring the cold air with it.”
And after the snow, it’s back into the deep freeze for the Chicago area, with the thermometer dipping well below zero early Monday. The high temperature Saturday will be near 32, and Sunday’s will be in the mid teens before the temperature falls to about 8 below zero overnight, according to Seeley. Monday’s high is forecast to be 20.
Illinois State Police are cautioning drivers in the Chicago area that whiteout conditions are possible Saturday because of strong winds that could gust up to 30 mph. Drivers should beware of black ice and carry emergency supplies in their vehicles, police said.
Thursday’s snowfall brought January’s total to 33.5 inches, which is near the average total snow for a Chicago-area winter and made January the third-snowiest month in the region’s recorded weather history, dating to 1884.
January 1918 saw 42.5 inches of snow, while January 1979 had 40.4 inches, the weather service said. Thursday’s snow pushed January’s total past December 1951, when 33.3 inches fell.
Airlines at O’Hare International Airport canceled 100 flights as of Friday afternoon, while 15 were canceled at Midway Airport. Those figures are expected to rise considerably during Saturday’s snowstorm.
Sun-Times Media Wire