Four to 8 inches of snow expected in season’s first significant storm
The mild winter couldn’t go on forever.
The season’s first substantial snow is falling on McHenry County today as the National Weather Service is forecasting 4 to 8 inches of white stuff by Friday morning. Four to 6 inches are expected in the Rockford area, and between 6 and 8 inches in Chicago.
Deputy Aimee Knop of the McHenry County Sheriff's Office said plows from the McHenry County Division of Transportation, area townships, and Illinois Department of Transportation are on the road.
The first weather-related call came in about 9:15 a.m., and as of 11:30 a.m. the department had responded to handful of minor accidents, such as cars in the ditch. No serious injuries have been reported.
However, there have been several reports of cars sliding off roadways and some crashes on police radio traffic.
Knop cautioned that the roads are slippery, and urged motorists to slow down and use extra caution.
Snowfall is expected to continue through Friday morning.
By this evening, winds are expected to increase to 15 to 25 mph and will cause blowing and drifting snow. Wind chills are expected to drop to near zero.
Accumulating snow is expected to make the afternoon commute difficult, the National Weather Service said. Traveling conditions could become treacherous in open and outlying areas.
Airlines have canceled more than 425 flights at Chicago airports today as the storm swept across the region.
The Chicago Department of Aviation said this afternoon that more than 325 flights were canceled at O'Hare International Airport. Southwest Airlines has canceled all flights in and out of Midway International Airport, totaling more than 100 flights or 25 percent of the airport's flights.
With the impending weather, people have had to prepare.
McHenry County Division of Transportation workers on Wednesday pretreated roads with anti-icing liquid to improve traction during the early parts of the storm, said Mark DeVries, maintenance superintendent.
“It’s a proactive approach to the winter,” DeVries said.
He added that it was inevitable that snow eventually would come.
“We’re overdue; it’s been a great year,” DeVries said. “No doubt sooner or later, the other shoe was going to drop.”
DeVries said crews were prepared to hit the road by 5 a.m. today.
Crews will try to get as much snow off as soon as possible, DeVries said.
Crews could be out until 10 or 10:30 p.m. today, and back on the road Friday morning.
“It’s almost like the first storm of the year,” DeVries said.
For some businesses, seeing a substantial amount of snow is a blessing.
Brad Levernier, 21, of Prairie Grove, owns Brad’s Best Lawn Care, a business that includes plowing services, and one he started in anticipation of a bad winter.
He will start plowing when it hits 2 inches of accumulation.
He planned to plow people’s driveways for $30 for up to 6 inches. More snow and the price goes up.
“I figured this year would be an exciting time to jump on board,” said Levernier, who has worked for other snowplow companies before.
Even when there was some snow in December, it wasn’t substantial enough for him to plow.
“I didn’t get a call from any of my clients,” Levernier said.
He said he was excited about today’s weather forecast.
Levernier said he does expect to get some calls today to clear driveways, in addition to the 10 accounts he already has, which might lead to more seasonal agreements.
“It’s a good way to get a foot in the door,” Levernier said.
At Ziegler’s Ace Hardware in Lake in the Hills, store manager Roger Henderson said he expected business to be brisk today.
By midday Wednesday, he had sold a snowblower, a few shovels, and some salt and sand to people prepping for the storm.
“A few of the items you normally sell in the winter, if we had a winter,” Henderson said.
Henderson added that he usually looks at the weather forecasts five to seven days in advance to see what kind of supplies he’ll need to stock shelves with. However, for this storm, there wasn’t much ordering, because his store already was stocked for winter.
The mild winter months led to some different types of sales at his store. Some people have bought fertilizer and grass seed to get a head start on spring plantings.
Henderson said that he was glad he could move some winter merchandise.
“It’s sad to say we want winter to come, but we really need it for our business,” Henderson said.