UPDATED 01/20/12 4:10 p.m.

  • Snow Falling One-Inch/Hour
  • CTA Temporarily Pulls Buses Off Lake Shore Drive
  • Major Traffic Delays On Expressways
  • 700 Flights Canceled At O’Hare
  • Southwest Stoppage At MDW

CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago has gotten hammered by a snowstorm that could leave up to 8 inches by Saturday morning, following dangerous cold in the morning.

Traveling quickly became difficult on Friday afternoon. The CTA diverted buses off of Lake Shore Drive at 3:30 p.m., but sent them back by evening. Cars were crawling between 5 mph and 10 pm on the Kennedy, Dan Ryan, Stevenson and Eisenhower expressways.

Light snow started falling in the Loop around 9:45 a.m. By 1:30 p.m., the snow had picked up significantly in intensity.

CBS 2 Meteorologist Mary Kay Kleist says the worst of the snow will come between 2 and 6 p.m., and at its peak, the snowstorm could dump as much as 1 inch per hour.

The Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation dispatched all of its trucks to plow the city’s main streets and Lake Shore Drive.

Meanwhile, at Midway International Airport, Southwest Airlines has elected to cancel all flights scheduled for Friday between 2 p.m. and into the evening.

At O’Hare International Airport, the airlines have canceled more than 700 flights due to the snow, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation. Delays at both airports were significant.

Meanwhile, WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation has taken out the removable barriers on Lake Shore Drive, so motorists do not get trapped on the highway, as happened in the 21.2-inch blizzard last year.

And driving on the Tri-State Tollway, Newsradio’s Mike Krauser says many motorists were losing control as they tried to change lanes. Caution is advised on the roads.

Kleist says the greatest snow totals will be in the immediate Chicago area and counties directly to the north and west. Totals could amount to 4 to 8 inches by Saturday morning.

Areas to the south such as Kankakee County will see 1 to 4 inches.

A winter storm warning is in effect from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. for much of northern Illinois, including Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties. Other area counties are under a winter weather advisory.

The snow followed a spell of dangerous cold that persisted into the early morning. At 5 a.m., it was a frigid 6 degrees at O’Hare International Airport, 7 degrees at Midway International Airport, and 4 degrees in DeKalb.

But the wind chills were hovering in the negative range in many areas. At 5 a.m., it felt like minus 3 at O’Hare, and minus 2 at Midway.

In west suburban Elmhurst, CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports the snow started falling around 10:15 a.m., and remained very light during the midday hours. Still, some commuters Friday morning decided to take Metra into the city because they just didn’t want to deal with a long and snowy drive home.

But they couldn’t avoid the endless bitter cold.

At the Elmhurst Metra station, the platform that is usually packed with riders in the morning was spacious because nearly everyone was waiting on benches inside until the second the train came.

Among the few exceptions was Chris Malcolm, who welcomed the freezing temperatures.

“If you’re going to live here, take advantage of it, and if not, live in a cave,” Malcolm said. “I’ve got an ice rink at home for my son, so I kind of look forward to the cold. Basically, it’s been a swimming pool for the squirrels for the last two months. I had water out there just waiting for it to get cold, but now that it’s below 32 for a couple of days, we’ve got good ice, and my little 3-year-old skates like crazy.”