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Wintry Mess Makes For Dangerous Conditions

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Snow Plow Sparks

An IDOT snow plow generates sparks on the Dan Ryan Expressway. (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED 12/21/10 9:26 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – Yes it is winter in Chicago. Sloppy, miserable conditions that have already made for danger on the sidewalks and roads.

As of 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, 75 flights were canceled at O’Hare Airport with delays of at least 45 minutes for some airlines, according to the Chicago Dept. of Aviation. Minor delays were also reported at Midway Airport due to icy roads although no cancellations are reported.

Astronomical winter–the winter solstice–officially begins at 5:38 p.m. CT Tuesday.

The snow that blanketed the area Monday night has come to an end. But it has been replaced with a messy freezing drizzle that as of was falling like so many pins and needles from Highland Park all the way downtown as the morning rush began.

The light freezing rain is expected to continue throughout much of the morning hours, before gradually changing to liquid state rain as temperatures crack the freezing mark.

A winter weather advisory is in effect until 10 a.m. for all of northern Illinois and Northwest Indiana.

What that means for morning commuters is that roads are potentially hazardous all around the area.

CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports at the Des Plaines Oasis on the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90), motorists were moving at a normal speed as of 5 a.m., since a fleet of salt trucks had already come through.

But conditions weren’t quite so smooth a short time earlier on the Dan Ryan Expressway at 95th Street. An Illinois Department of Transportation snow-fighting truck was seen making sparks as its plow dragged on the pavement.

On Interstate 80, motorist Heather Stock ended up trapped in a ditch.

“I was going about 30 trying to keep it easy, and then all of a sudden, I came on this really thick patch of snow, and I kind of spun, and I kind of slid into… go with the slide, and soon enough, I ended up in a ditch,” Stock said.

Another driver, Elvis Ramirez, ran into trouble on 95th Street.

“As I was turning on 95th Street, another car was swerving, and it was about to hit me, so I kind of just made a little slight right, and the car got cold, so I just lost control, and as I lost control, I just spin, like, maybe five or six times, and I hit the wall on this side,” Ramirez said.

But both city and state crews have been on top of the game. The city’s Department of Streets and Sanitation sent out notified 174 snow-fighting trucks at 2:30 p.m. Monday, while the Illinois Toll Highway Authority sent out all 183 of its snow plows overnight.

The city snow-fighting trucks remained in service as the Tuesday morning rush began. As of midnight Monday night, the National Weather Service officially recorded 2 1/2 inches of snow at O’Hare, according to the Department of Streets and Sanitation.

To help with snow removal efforts, the Tollway also canceled all temporary lane closures between 2 p.m. Monday and 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

Motorists are encouraged to slow down, leave more room and be especially careful on ramps.

But the roads aren’t the only hazard. While road salt is keeping sidewalks wet, but safe, areas without salt have been turned into virtual ice rinks.

Schwenneker says the temperature will rise to 32 degrees by noon, by which point liquid-state rain will be falling. By 5 p.m., the temperature is expected to rise to 34 degrees.

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