Record-breaking snowstorm cancels more than 1,180 flights

Chicago sees most snow since blizzard, over 1,180 flights cancelled

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

The Tuesday snowstorm that made Chicago's evening rush a "nightmare" produced the most accumulation since the 2011 blizzard.

The snow began falling Tuesday morning, and the record for the largest Chicago snowfall on March 5 was broken when 9.2 inches of accumulation were recorded at O'Hare International Airport, according to the National Weather Service.

The storm also quickly became the largest of the season, surpassing the 5.4 inches accumulated at O'Hare International Airport between Feb. 26 and Feb. 27, the weather service said.

Another inch of snow is possible before the storm tapers off into light flurries after midnight, the weather service said. Some places closer to Lake Michigan could see snow showers continue into early Wednesday morning.

As of 9 p.m., 9.1 inches of snow had fallen at O'Hare Airport, setting a new daily snowfall record for the date of March 5. The previous record was 3.8 inches, set in 1999 and tied in 2002.

The hardest-hit areas in northern Illinois were west suburban La Grange Park, and Chicago Rockford International Airport far northwest of the city, which both saw 11 inches of snow.

Northwest suburban Batavia saw 9.1 inches, while south suburban Homewood and Chicago Ridge in Cook County each had about 9 inches of the white stuff.

Southwest suburban Joliet had 8.7 inches of snow, while west suburban Naperville had slightly less, at 8.5 inches of snow. North suburban Lake Bluff had even less, at 6.1 inches.

The storm dropped about 8 inches of snow in southwest suburban Frankfort.

Most schools and even some businesses were closed. That gave people time to clear sidewalks - and kids the chance to have a little late winter fun.

Evanston also got buried. The town declared a snow emergency for the next two days.

There is no parking Wednesday on the even side of streets. No parking Thursday on the odd side. The parking restrictions are in effect from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

A winter storm warning remains in effect until midnight because the snow will make travel dangerous, according to the weather service. On area roads, police reported no serious-injury accidents but lots of spinouts.

"We're expecting some pretty heavy snowfall, up to an inch or two inches per hour," National Weather Service meteorologist Jamie Enderlen said. "That could cause a traffic nightmare. When it falls that quick, plows have a hard time keeping up with it."

The city and state deployed their full fleet of snowplows to clear the roads. They worked through the night to clear the streets for the Wednesday morning commute.

After cleaning up the main roads, they turned their attention to Chicago's side streets. But many remain snow-covered, with plenty of slippery spots.

Drivers can expect to do a little more digging out once the plows go by. Many corners are also a slushy mess.

Flight travel in and out of Chicago's two major airports has mostly returned to normal after Tuesday's storm produced the greatest accumulation of snow since the 2011 Groundhog Day blizzard.

As of 7:30 a.m. Wed., travelers arriving at O'Hare airport faced no significant delays, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation.

That said, officials cancelled 75 fights that were headed for parts of the east coast that are just now getting hit by the same storm that passed through the Chicago area Tuesday.

At Midway Airport 10 flights were cancelled this morning and travelers face minor delays, according to the aviation department.

Airlines canceled more than 1,180 flights at O'Hare and Midway airports Tuesday, according to the city's Department of Aviation.

The airlines canceled more than 930 flights at O'Hare and 250 flights at Midway, the Dept. of Aviation said. Southwest Airlines canceled all flights out of Midway after 10 a.m., but was operating again by Tuesday evening with 3-hour delays.

For those yearning for spring, warmer weather is not too far off, according to the weather service. The temperature is expected to reach 41 by Friday and 44 on Saturday, promising a slushy weekend.

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