More cold expected this week

WOODSTOCK – A car that slid off Route 176 west of Dean Street was just one of a smattering of weather-related accidents that frustrated some commuters Tuesday morning.

Most of the accidents caused only property damage and with no to minor reported injuries, according to a sampling of area police departments.

Overall, though, the numbers were "pretty typical for a normal day," Crystal Lake Police Cmdr. Dan Dziewior said. 

Crystal Lake officers responded to six minor crashes Tuesday morning, compared to four Monday, he said. They also assisted three motorists for issues like cars breaking down or sliding off the road, compared to two the previous day.

The Route 176 accident was the only one, not including cars sliding into ditches, that the McHenry County Sheriff's Office responded to Tuesday morning, Deputy Aimee Knop said.

"Typically what happens if the roads look bad, it's a perception issue," Dziewior said, adding that drivers are more likely to put down their cell phones and concentrate on their driving when the weather is bad. "We have more crashes on a nice, sunny day. It's not rain-slick pavement. It's not snow. It's drivers."

The Metra system was doing "much better" following Monday night's snow than it had following the snow and arctic temperatures that hit the area a few weeks ago, spokeswoman Meg Reile said, adding that when delays occurred, they ran about 10 to 15 minutes behind schedule.

Temperatures are expected to fall later this week – wind chill values could drop as low as 15 to 25 degrees below zero Thursday – but the gap between the 10 inches of lake-effect snow that hit some areas Monday night and that drop will give Metra time to address any issues in their rail yards, most of which aren't located near the lake.

Metra's troubles following the arctic blast were compounded by the maintenance that had to be done on an usual number of its cars, taking many out of circulation the week following the temperature plunge, Reile said.

The Union Pacific lines, which includes the Northwest line that covers McHenry County, was back up to a full complement of cars Monday, she said.

That doesn't mean commuters are in the clear, though.

The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather outlook for the area, warning that wind chill values as low as 10 to 20 degrees below zero are possible for Tuesday night.

Low wind chill values are expected to persist through the rest of the week, and river flooding is possible, especially near isolated ice jams and along the Kankakee River.

When temperatures or wind chill values fall below zero, the Illinois Tollway's Zero Weather Patrols will be on the look out for stranded vehicles and will respond to calls made to the *999 motorist assist hotline, the tollway's dispatch center or the area state police district.

"With the severe cold weather cold weather and extreme wind chills, we want our customers to stay with their vehicles if they become stranded and not try to go for help," Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur said in a news release.