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Winter Storm Hits Chicagoland

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Thursday Snow Fall

Updated 12/20/12 – 9:00 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — A strong storm with rain, snow and high winds hit Chicagoland on Thursday and caused thousands of power outages and flight cancellations.

The Winter Storm Warning is in effect for the Chicago area and Northwest Indiana through 3 a.m. Chicago time on Friday.

There are also high wind warnings for Chicago as gusts could reach 60 miles per hour across the area. A lakeshore flood warning is in effect for Lake and Porter counties in Indiana.

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Snow totals will be heavier west and north of the city, with as much as six inches possible. About 2 to 4 inches is expected for the city, with slightly less in areas south of Chicago. With the high winds, whiteout conditions are possible in Northwest Indiana tonight.

Parts of northwest Illinois around Rockford could get up to nine inches of snow.

The storm began as rain in the early morning hours on Thursday and switched to snow in the afternoon and evening. The first snow will hit the far northern and western suburbs of Chicago in the afternoon.

ComEd said 31,000 customers were without service Thursday night, mostly in the “Western” service region, amid several reports of downed power lines. More than 600 crews were out making repairs.

Meanwhile, more than 500 flights had been canceled at O’Hare and Midway airports, which both were experiencing delays.

The new commissioner of Chicago’s Streets and Sanitation Department, Charles Williams, says his crews will be ready. Williams says 200 snow plows were hitting the streets. Thanks to a surplus from last year’s mild winter, his department has a stockpile of 285,000 tons of salt.

Snow totals will vary depending on when the rain turns to snow as temperatures fall.

After the storm moves past, temperatures with the colder on Friday, with highs only in the 20s.

The snow will be the latest measurable snow ever for Chicago. The previous record was Dec. 16, 1965. Chicago has also set a record for consecutive days without snow (290).

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