Updated 01/02/2014 – 2:45 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — If your New Year’s resolution was to get more exercise, you can begin by shoveling the snow that has piled up steadily since Tuesday night, with up to 18 inches in some suburbs.
The winter storm is the biggest to hit Chicago on New Year’s Day since 1999. As of 9:30 a.m. Thursday, 5.8 inches had fallen at O’Hare International Airport. The northern suburbs were hit hardest, with 18 inches reported in Gurnee, 13.8 inches in Riverwoods, 13.7 inches in Mundelein, and 12.9 inches in Beach Park.
CBS 2 Meteorologist Megan Glaros reports the heaviest band of lake effect snow began moving south along the lake late Thursday morning just south of Milwaukee, and arrived in Chicago soon after.
That narrow band of snow will pivot into northwest Indiana after hitting Chicago, and could bring as much as 10 inches of additional snow close to the lake.
In northwest Indiana, Lake and Porter counties were under a lake effect snow warning until midnight Thursday night Chicago time. Jasper and Newton counties were under a lake effect snow advisory, also until midnight Thursday night Chicago time.
The city of Chicago’s full fleet of 287 snow plows and salt spreaders has been working to clear the city’s main streets since Tuesday afternoon, working practically non-stop. In addition, 26 four-wheel drive vehicles were deployed Thursday morning, along with 60 garbage trucks equipped with quick-hitch snow plows.
Though some side streets have been cleared, many have yet to be plowed, as the trucks work to keep up with the snow. You can track where snow plows are working in your neighborhood by clicking here.
Streets and Sanitation Department spokeswoman Molly Poppe said plows would move to side streets once the main roads have been cleared.
“It’s obviously all contingent on when the snow stops,” she said.
The roar of snowblowers could be heard everywhere, along with those biting into the powder with shovels.
In north suburban Wilmette, the snow is deep enough and the passage of plows infrequent enough on some side streets to prompt some to consider bringing out their cross-country skis.
Jeff Clarkin said he planned to break out his skis as soon as he finished shoveling his driveway and sidewalks. He said the last time there was a major storm, he did not do so before the plows did their jobs, and he regretted it.
Some with heavy-duty snowblowers cleared sidewalks and driveways for neighbors, including Eric Matten, who made an in early morning and a mid-afternoon pass from one end of his block to the other.
He said a couple of neighbors also have heavy-duty snowblowers and take turns clearing the sidewalks, and in some cases, the driveways.
None seemed particularly alarmed that more snow could fall, Matten saying, “It’s January in Chicago.”
The continuous snowfall prompted airlines to cancel more than 635 flights at O’Hare International Airport on Wednesday, and nearly 300 more by Thursday morning. Remaining flights were being delayed an average of 45 minutes on Thursday, according to the city’s Aviation Department.
At Midway International Airport, there were no canceled flights reported Wednesday, and fewer than 10 on Thursday, as of 10:15 a.m. Remaining flights were delayed about 15 minutes. However, there were massive crowds packing the terminal.
If the snow wasn’t enough, the temperature will drop just below zero overnight. That will be relatively mild, however, compared to Monday, when the high will be about 1 degree below zero, and the low could be 15 below.