Get ready for ‘heart attack snow’
February 26, 2013 1:29PM
Janice Michalec, of Tinley Park, walks through the blowing snow to the Oak Park Avenue Metra Station in Tinley Park, Illinois, Tuesday, February 26, 2013. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 26, 2013 7:01PM
The storm system that dumped 15 inches of snow in parts of Oklahoma and buffeted the Texas panhandle with 80-mph wind gusts Monday has made its way to Chicago, and things could get messy.
Several schools already have canceled after-school activities for Tuesday.
In Plainfield District 202, high school students are going to be dismissed 20 minutes early at 1:50 p.m., the district announced in a press release. Middle school students are going to be dismissed as soon as the busses finish their high school runs and elementary students were expected to be dismissed close to their normal times, spokesman Thomas Hernandez said in a press release.
All afterschool and evening activities were canceled, including practices, concerts and rehearsals, and all Plainfield Park District programs held in school district buildings also were cancelled.
New Lenox School District 122 said all would be canceled except for the Liberty Chorus concert at Lincoln-Way West High School.
A combination of sleet and wet snow began falling Tuesday morning, and by late morning the mix had reached downtown Chicago, with temperatures hovering near or slightly above freezing.
As of about noon, enough snow was falling in Tinley Park that visibility was reduced for drivers. There was sleet and freezing rain downtown, snow in the western suburbs and rain in northwest Indiana. It was expected to be all snow just in time for the Tuesday evening commute.
By Wednesday morning, there could be 3 to 5 inches on the ground, according to the National Weather Service, which has issued a winter weather advisory through 9 p.m. Tuesday. Higher amounts could fall in the western and northern suburbs, with lower totals to the south and in northwest Indiana.
The weather service noted that travel times on the roads and at airports could be significantly affected by precipitation and winds. Area transportation agencies were readying their snow and ice removal efforts.
The mix of precipitation was expected to transition to all wet snow in most places by early to midafternoon, according to the weather service. Snow was expected to continue into the early evening and be heavy at times.
With wind gusts as high as 35 to 40 mph — and higher near Lake Michigan — the wind-whipped snow could cause low visibilities and difficult travel conditions at times this afternoon and evening, according to the weather service.
Snowfall rates of more than an inch per hour could occur and this could also “significantly impact” travel at O’Hare and Midway airports, the weather service said.
Lighter snow was expected to continue at least through Thursday, forecasters said, as the system stalls over the Great Lakes region. By Thursday, high temperatures in the Chicago area could be in the mid-30s, according to the weather service.
Contributing: Sun-Times Media Wire, staff reports