Ice storm left roads slick, grounded 200 flights - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Ice storm left roads slick, grounded 200 flights

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

The Chicago area is experiencing a wild rollercoaster in weather conditions, with record highs possible Monday. But ice was the problem on Sunday, and definitely affected travel.

The winter weather forced airlines at O'Hare International Airport to cancel 200 flights on Sunday.

Other inbound and outbound flights are delayed an average of 45 minutes as of Sunday evening, though Midway Airport is reporting only minor delays and cancellations, according to the city's Department of Aviation.

Snow quickly changed to sleet and freezing rain, National Weather Service meteorologist Kevin Birk said.

Ice accumulations of up to a couple tenths of an inch are expected before temperatures rise above freezing SUnday.

The bad weather reached the western suburbs early Sunday afternoon and headed east into northwest Indiana as of Sunday evening.

"If you have to travel, be very cautious," Birk said, even when it comes to walking outside or driving because untreated services will be slippery. Sideways and sidewalks turned to sheets of ice making walking difficult and potentially dangerous, the Weather Service noted.

The freezing rain turned to regular rain in the early evening hours into the night.

The icy blast even affected public transportation, as the bad weather forced "major delays" on the CTA Green Line Sunday afternoon, the transit agency said.

The shuttle bus service was set up between the 63rd/Cottage station, a Red Line connection and the 63rd/Ashland station, according to the CTA's website. Another bus took passengers between the 35th Street station on the Green Line and the 35th Street station on the Red Line.

Passengers were advised to extra travel time as crews worked to restore full service.

Chicago's full fleet of 284 plows/salt trucks was on the streets Sunday afternoon.

By about 1:45 p.m., the city Department of Streets and Sanitation Snow Command had deployed its full feet of 284 plows onto Chicago's main routes and Lake Shore Drive, according to Streets and San. The trucks worked to first salt the city's main streets, and then focused efforts on residential streets.

The Illinois Department of Transportation said it has its full complement of 360 trucks at the ready. Half were uploaded with salt as early as Friday, said spokesman Mike Claffey.

"We'll be out there hitting the roads hard," he said. "The good news is it's a Sunday, so there's a lot less traffic out there."

As of Sunday afternoon, the Illinois Tollway has mobilized its full fleet as well - 182 snowplows to service 286 miles of roadway in northern Illinois.

"Our full fleet has been out salting the roads since early this afternoon and, while our system is currently clear and wet, drivers should use extreme caution, especially on ramps, bridges and other elevated areas," said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur in a release.

Another plus: Warm weather is on the way. The forecast for Monday is a high of 47 degrees and for Sunday night is 34.

"We don't expect it to stick around and start problems into Monday," Claffey said of the freezing rain. "We do see a warming trend overnight that will certainly help. It would be worse if we had an ice storm followed by deep freeze."

For those who needed to drive Sunday, he said that they "really absolutely must slow down and allow more braking distance."

"If you have to be out, drive slowly and give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination," Lafleur said.

The ice wasn't expected to create widespread damage of trees and power lines, although there could have been some isolated incidents, Birk said.

ComEd monitored the situation and said the weather event could have some impact on its equipment.

"We've increased staffing at our operations center ... for dispatching crews and beefed up the number of crews we will have available today to assist with any restoration as needed," ComEd spokeswoman Arlana Johnson said.

A freezing rain advisory was in effect until 9 p.m.

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