CHICAGO (CBS) — The snow might be over, after dumping up to 3 inches of flakes on the Chicago area early Wednesday, but residents are still bracing for the second blast of subzero temperatures in three days.
Temperatures will plummet throughout the afternoon and wind chills are expected be range from 10 to 25 below zero tonight.
Crews in the city and suburbs were on top of the storm even before it started, sending out plows and salt trucks to keep the roads clear of snow and ice.
The snow stopped falling for most of the Chicago area by 10 a.m., leaving less than an inch in Chicago – 0.7 inches at O’Hare International Airport, and 0.9 inches at Midway Airport.
The heaviest snowfall appeared to be in the western and southwestern suburbs — in Will, Kendall, DeKalb, Kane, and Lee counties.
According to the National Weather Service, Yorkville got 3.1 inches of snow, DeKalb got 2.4 inches, Plainfield got 2.3 inches, Dixon got 2.2 inches, and Aurora got 2 inches.
If it weren’t for salt trucks and plows hitting the roads early, many roads would have been extremely icy for the morning rush, but as it turned out, the commute was relatively smooth.
There was a weather-related crash on Interstate 80/94 in northwest Indiana, involving three semi-trailer trucks and a car. The wreck forced crews to shut down the eastbound lanes of 80/94 at the start of the morning rush, shortly before 6 a.m. Two lanes reopened by 7:30 a.m., and all lanes were open by 9 a.m.
A jack-knifed semi also caused delays on the Tri-State Tollway near Lake Cook Road around 8:40 a.m., but the scene was cleared in less than an hour.
The big concern now is the bitter cold temperatures that will descend on the area Wednesday afternoon. Temperatures will begin steadily dropping around 1 p.m., and fall to zero or colder overnight.
A wind chill advisory will be in effect from 6 p.m. Wednesday through 5 a.m. Thursday, according to the National Weather Service. The combination of frigid temperatures and winds will result in wind chills of 10 to 20 below zero Wednesday afternoon and evening, and as low as 25 below overnight.
The extreme wind chill could result in frost bite or hypothermia if you don’t take precautions by staying indoors as much as possible; and wearing layers, including a hat and gloves, to cover your skin when outdoors.
One woman said when she’s outside to shovel snow in these conditions, her secret to staying warm is listening to music on her iPod.
“Last time I shoveled, I played ‘Take Me Home Country Road’ by John Denver,” Jeanne Nagle said.
Drew Logan said he doesn’t pay attention to weather forecasts, but he knows he has to bundle up this time of year.
“Isn’t that what winter’s all about in Chicago?” Logan said.
He said he was wearing three or four layers Wednesday morning.
“You can never be too warm,” he said.
For those who don’t have a place to stay warm, the city has 21 warming centers.
“Everyone knows of a senior on their block or in their building that could use our help. And if they could not reach out to them, if they would please call 3-1-1. We will go and do a well-being check and you will possibly save a life. So please do this,” said Joyce Gallagher, executive director of the Chicago area agency on aging.
ER doctors say don’t ignore the early warning signs of frostbite: Numbness and then pain in the fingers and toes.
“It can vary by individual and by what you’re wearing. It can be within an hour at temperatures that we’re talking about tonight that frostbite can set in,” said Dr. Paul Casey of Rush University Medical Center.