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Snow Makes For Mess On Roads, At Airports

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Snow On Road

Snow made for a miserable commute Tuesday morning. (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED 01/11/11 5:00 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – More than 535 flights at Chicago airports were canceled Tuesday morning due to the persistent snow, and the roads were left in a mess around the area.

The snow in the area, as well as a winter storm that hit the Southeast, has led to the cancellation of more than 500 flights in and out of O’Hare International Airport as of 3:30 p.m., according to the city Department of Aviation. There also were more than 35 flights canceled at Midway International Airport.

Delays at both airports were averaging one hour Tuesday afternoon.

On the roads, the city of Chicago’s snow-fighting trucks have been out on the streets since early morning. The Dept. of Streets & Sanitation has had 174 trucks on main streets and Lake Shore Drive since 2:30 a.m.

The Illinois Tollway also mobilized its full fleet of 183 snowplows.

To help with snow removal efforts, the Tollway canceled all temporary lane closures from 8 p.m. Monday through 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Illinois Department of Transportation spokesman Guy Tridgell said plows have been able to keep up, but have had to combat against furious snowfall – particularly in the immediate Chicago area, the North Shore, Lake County, and areas near the Indiana state line.

“This is fairly slow, and it’s stretched out over a long period of time, so we’ve been able to tackle this. We’ve been able to get out of in front of it and sort of respond accordingly,” Tridgell said, “but this evening’s going to be an issue, no doubt about it.”

Tridgell advises commuters to leave early or late, instead of getting stuck in the afternoon rush, or taking public transportation. Those who are on the roads are also reminded to give snow plows ample space.

But the situation isn’t running quite as smoothly in Indiana. Southbound Interstate 65 was closed for part of Tuesday morning due to a crash involving a car and a semi-trailer truck. While the expressway later reopened, the snow led to several other crashes, particularly farther south in Boone County, Ind., where a semi jackknifed and many vehicles slid off the road.

Both northbound and southbound lanes of I-65 near Lebanon were closed to traffic as of about 10:40 a.m., and were expected to remain closed for at least a couple of hours. Motorists are urged to “stay away” from I-65, Indiana State Police Sgt. Ann Wojas said.

A winter weather advisory is in effect until 8 p.m. for the entire Chicago area. The snow will continue to fall intensely until around 3 p.m., but is expected to remain hovering over the area all day.

CBS 2 Meteorologist Megan Glaros says a total of 3 to 5 inches of snow are expected to fall on most of the area, in large part due to lake enhancement. For counties to far to the west such as Kane, McHenry and DeKalb, only 1 to 3 inches of accumulation are expected.

In Porter and LaPorte counties in Indiana and Berrien County in Michigan, Glaros says snow totals could to p out at 6 inches or more. A lake effect snow warning is in effect for those counties from 6 p.m. Tuesday to 4 p.m. Wednesday.

In most of the area, the snow will move out late in the day, as a low pressure system now hovering over southern Illinois moves east to Ohio.

On Wednesday, scattered flurries are expected, but winds will pick up, bringing the risk of blowing snow.

Sunshine will return Thursday and Friday, but bitter cold is also on the way. On Monday of next week, the forecast high is a mere 17 degrees.

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