Snow is falling hard in many parts of the Chicago area Saturday afternoon, falling an inch an hour in some parts of the north and northwest suburbs.
A Winter Storm Warning for most of the Chicago area is in effect until 3 p.m. Saturday. A Winter Storm Warning is also in effect for Porter and Lake counties in Indiana until 6 p.m.
A Winter Weather Advisory has been extended until 6 p.m. Saturday for areas south of the city as well as northwest Indiana and southern Michigan due to possible lake effect snow later Saturday.
Almost a foot of snow has already fallen in the northern suburbs. About 16 inches has fallen in Grayslake, 13 inches in Wadsworth, 12.5 inches in Woodstock and 11 inches in Lake Zurich.
At noon, ABC7 meteorologist Phil Schwarz said the heaviest snow is coming down in the areas around Wheeling, Waukegan and Buffalo Grove. The back edge of the storm is just starting to move into northwest Illinois, but we could still see several hours of snow before the system passes through.
About 1-3 more inches of snow could fall – maybe even more in Porter County in northwest Indiana, Schwarz said.
Along the city’s lakefront and downtown, precipitation has mostly turned to rain.
A heavier wave of snow will push into the area later Saturday morning and taper off by the evening with winds picking up around 2 p.m.
The weather is having an impact on air travel. As of 10:30 a.m., O’Hare International Airport is reporting 60-minute delays and 250 flights have been cancelled. Midway Airport is reporting 45-minute delays and has cancelled 50 flights.
The Illinois Department of Transportation has deployed trucks across Chicago’s tollways and expressways, though officials say the warmer temperatures have made clearing roadways a bit easier.
“There’s a couple of things working in our favor, the temperatures the last couple weeks have been very high so the pavement temperature is quite warm. Secondly, at this hour on a Saturday, there’s just not a lot of traffic. So we’ve been able to get out into this storm and operate a lot more efficiently due to the fact that there’s not a lot of traffic right now,” said Guy Tridgell, Illinois Department of Transportation.
This first snowfall of the season could impact one of the city’s biggest holiday events, the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival and Parade on Saturday. About 1 million people traditionally head downtown.
“We always encourage people to take public transportation, arrive early, drive safely, and enjoy the event,” said Gary Schenkel, OEMC Director.