Updated 02/22/13 – 11:48 a.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) – The overnight snowstorm brought 2.7 inches to Chicago — a modest amount for the city, but still good enough to tie the largest amount this winter, and enough to make the morning commute a mess.
There were numerous accidents on local streets and highways overnight, as an overnight snowstorm dumped 2 to 5 inches across the Chicago area.
A winter weather advisory remained in effect until 6 p.m. Friday.
Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Charles Williams said the city’s full fleet of 284 snow plows was out clearing and salting city streets overnight, focusing first on main arteries and Lake Shore Drive. The plows moved to the city’s side streets around 9 a.m.
“We’ve been busy all night,” Williams said. “There are some issues as we pass those mains. The wind is blowing snow back over onto the mains from park areas and side streets, but we continue to work that. As soon as we have the mains under control, we’ll be concentrating on the side streets.”
Williams urged motorists to drive slowly and allow for extra travel time. He also said drivers should give plows plenty of room to operate.
Williams said the snowfall overnight has been the heaviest the city has seen this season.
The snow also forced airlines to cancel scores of flights at the city’s airports.
As of 10:30 a.m., there had been more than 300 cancelled flights at O’Hare International Airport, and more than 30 at Midway International Airport. Both airports were experiencing delays of 15 to 30 minutes for other flights.
While conditions were slowly improving after the snow stopped falling, freezing drizzle could mix with the snow on Friday, and add a layer of ice.
The National Weather Service warned that wind gusts of up to 30 miles-per-hour could “result in wind whipped snow” and brief whiteout conditions causing reduce visibility.
It’s been a brutal morning rush for people driving on local highways, with multiple accidents adding to the delays for already slow conditions on most highways.
Many cars spun out and ended up in ditches as a result of the slick roads.
Overnight, an SUV traveling on the Eisenhower Expressway struck a concrete median divider. The driver was injured and taken to a local hospital.
A handful of cars also spun out of control and crashed on I-57.
Illinois Department of Transportation crews were out with their plows, in an effort to keep the highways clear of snow and ice. The Illinois Toll Highway Authority is also prepared to mobilize its full fleet of 182 snowplows as necessary.
The conditions had many commuters opting for public transportation over driving, making many CTA buses and trains more crowded than normal.
Rose McAdams, who was using the Blue Line transit center in Jefferson Park, said she normally drives to work, but she didn’t want to on Friday because of the snow.
“I just decided to take the public transportation,” she said. “The CTA is good, it’s safer for me.”
Lester Armistad said it was more convenient for him to take the bus, rather than drive himself in the slippery conditions.
“Let the CTA take it,” he said. “You just sit back and relax.”
Greg Zorn took a bus to the Jefferson Park transit center to catch a Blue Line train. He said his bus driver had to take it very slowly.
“They’re good. They do their job pretty well,” he said. “It was treacherous. The road are starting to clear up now, but this morning it was really bad.”
Rachel Brockway opted to walk to work. At one point, she couldn’t find the sidewalk because of all the snow, so she walked in the street.
“As long as nobody runs me over, I don’t mind. It’s kind of messy, but it’s Chicago
Andy Samways gave it a shot on his bicycle, but it proved to be a big challenge turning the wheels with all the snow, slush and ice.
“The tires don’t really grip, so it’s kind of exciting,” he said. “It’s quite difficult. I mean, it’s hard to keep it upright, it’s difficult to stop the wheels sliding out.”
The heavy snow made for rough going for those who had to break out their shovels.
“I’m hoping always to put it away,” Simon Aloits said. “We have a snow blower, and getting it through the entranceway is more challenging than getting a shovel out. It would take 20 minutes to get it started.”
Several schools in the area were closed or starting late on Friday. For a complete list of school closings, click here.