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Chicago Area Digging Out From Heaviest Snowfall Since 2011 Blizzard

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A Downers Grove resident shovels his stairs on March 6, 2013, the morning after a winter storm dropped 9.5 inches of snow on the suburb. (Credit: CBS)

A Downers Grove resident shovels his stairs on March 6, 2013, the morning after a winter storm dropped 9.5 inches of snow on the suburb. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Chicago area residents were shoveling out from heavy snow Wednesday morning, following the biggest winter storm in two years.

Tuesday’s storm dropped 9.2 inches of snow at O’Hare International Airport, according to the National Weather Service. That’s the most Chicago has seen since the Groundhog Day blizzard in 2011, which dumped 21.2 inches. It also broke the official March 5 record for Chicago, which was 3.8 inches, set in 1999 and 2002.

Midway International Airport saw slightly more snow, at 9.4 inches, but Chicago’s official totals are measured at O’Hare.

Despite going until Jan. 25 before seeing the first one-inch snowfall this season – a record 335 day stretch of virtually snowless weather – Chicago is now close to the average snowfall for the season. Following Tuesday’s storm, Chicago has seen 29.5 inches of snow, compared to the average of 30.7 inches for this point in winter.

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The area’s heaviest recorded snowfall from the storm on Tuesday was 11.1 inches that fell in Streator, as of 1 a.m.

CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports many other suburbs were also hit hard by the snow, including Downers Grove, which got 9.5 inches.

The snow seemed to fall heaviest in the southern suburbs, and tapered off north of the city.

Many residents were getting up before dawn on Wednesday to dig out their driveways, sidewalks and cars.

Jim Cowell got up early to scrape off his wife’s car, though it took more time and energy than he expected.

“A little ice today; this makes it difficult today,” he said. “There’s a little bit of ice, yeah. It’s going to make it for an extra 10 minutes this morning for getting ready. … But I welcome that. After the drought, I think this is good for everybody, for the rivers, for the lake.”

Around 12:30 a.m., the city of Chicago’s fleet of 284 snow plows began plowing and salting residential side streets, after focusing on the city’s main streets and Lake Shore Drive for virtually all of Tuesday.

O’Hare and Midway will be playing catch-up on Wednesday, after nearly 1,200 flights were canceled due to the snow; more than 930 flights were canceled at O’Hare, and more than 250 were canceled at Midway.

On Wednesday, an additional 75 flights were canceled at O’Hare, mostly to the East Coast, which was being hit by the same snowstorm that blanketed Chicago. Midway saw an additional 10 flights canceled on Wednesday. Neither airport was reporting any significant delays on Wednesday.

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