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So this is spring?
Today's snow puts new season on hold
By Marni Pyke, Dave Beery and Lee Filas | Daily Herald Staff

Higuy Matti of Arlington Heights, left, runs along Eastman Street with his shirt off in Arlington Heights Thursday. The image on the right is the same street on Friday.


Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

Rita Kelly of St. Charles and Bailey go for a winter jog through LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve as snow returns to the area Friday. She said they walk there quite a bit, and were happy to see winter return. "We love the snow," she said.


Rick West | Staff Photographer

Drivers make their way through blowing snow while going south on Butterfield Road in Libertyville this morning.


Vince Pierri | Staff Photographer

Drivers face another morning rush through falling snow in Arlington Heights this morning.


Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

Val Bedoe of Bartlett walks past an empty bike rack in the snow on her way to the Bartlett Community Center to watch the Aqua Egg Hunt in the Splash Center.


Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

From left, grandpa Curt Brokaw, twins Amy and Maya, 7 years-old, and mom Kathy Grzywinski carrying Millie, 2 years-old trudge through the snow on their way to the Bartlett Community Center for the Aqua Egg Hunt at the Splash Center.


Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

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Published: 3/21/2008 12:11 AM | Updated: 3/21/2008 9:39 PM

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Today's spring snowstorm caused accidents around the region and grounded hundreds of flights at O'Hare, where frustrated travelers spent the morning trying to sort out flight information and make alternative connections.

While not as punishing as some blizzards the area has suffered this winter, snow accumulation could reach up to 10 inches in some spots, officials forecast.

The storm will continue through tonight, according to the National Weather Service, leaving up to 3 inches on the ground in the morning.

At O'Hare International Airport, more than 350 flights had been canceled, a Chicago Department of Aviation spokesman said. Delays were averaging about 30 to 60 minutes.

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Midway International Airport was hit less heavily with delays of 30 minutes and a dozen cancellations.

At O'Hare, some passengers complained of what they called conflicting information.

Jeanette Clark, of Aurora, was trying to catch a flight to Philadelphia that would connect her, her husband and three children to their spring break destination in Puerto Rico.

"We have a US Airways flight booked through United," Clark said. "Over in the US Airways terminal, they told us 'everything is canceled; go home. ' "

But, Clark said, the departure board in United's terminal indicated the flight was still on, even though the departure time had passed.

"We called twice before we came," Clark said. "First, they told us it was canceled, then they told us it was back on. Then, here, they told us it's canceled. Now it might be back on."

Michael Cohn, of Highland Park, was trying to get his wife and daughters to Phoenix for spring break. He, too, expressed frustration in working with both US Airways and United.

"The problem is that I have no standing with any airline," Cohn said of a flight booked through United and operated by US Airways. "US Airways said the earliest they could get us on a flight was Sunday at 7 o'clock at night. They told me we can try standby tonight, but that it doesn't look good. Now, we're seeing if United will help us."

United spokesman Jeff Kovick said that his company has "code-share" arrangements with more than a dozen airlines, including US Airways, and that the airlines work together as best they can to communicate with passengers.

Kovick said United used its meteorological information to cancel many flights well in advance of their actual departure time.

"If we're aware that there's going to be a significant weather situation, we try to be proactive in canceling flights," Kovick said. "We hear from our customers that they'd rather wait out a storm from the comfort of their own home rather than at the airport, so we like to give them as much notice as possible."

Still, the logic and pattern of cancellations puzzled even some passengers whose schedules seemed to survive the storm untouched.

Diana Quinn, of Vernon Hills, was keeping her fingers crossed that the flight taking her - along with her husband and two sons - to Roanoke, Va., would remain on schedule, as the departure board showed. The family, she said, had spent three months searching air fares to Tampa, Fla., that were "not obscene" and finally succeeded with a connection through Roanoke.

"But a flight to Richmond has been canceled," she noted. "Roanoke and Richmond are not that far apart."

Aside from the airport woes, travelers also faced delays and minor fender benders, especially in the northern suburbs.

Officials in Fox Lake and Antioch said scattered accidents along with the snowfall are causing travel times to increase.

Fox Lake Chief Mike Behan said three accidents have occurred in town because of the snow. He said all were minor with no injuries.

"People need to slow down in this weather," he said. "People are driving a little too fast and then skidding."

In the meantime, road crews are trying their best to keep up with the snowfall.

Plows in Libertyville were sent out about 8 a.m., said Public Works Director John Heinz.

He added, aside from having to stretch its available salt supply, which will be combined with a gravel mix, conditions weren't much different than has been the case all winter.

"Just your regular January snow storm," Heinz said. Temperatures near freezing are helpful, he added.

"The temperature is such we shouldn't have too many issues," he said. The village is expecting about six inches of snow today.

"We're figuring it will stop sometime in July," Heinz joked.

Lake Zurich, on the other hand, is one of the few communities that hasn't run out of salt this season.

"We have roughly about 800 to 900 tons sitting in the bin," said Mike Brown, Lake Zurich public works superintendent. "We're continuing to salt and staying ahead of it. My concern would be coming home this afternoon."

The village has seen 66.1 inches of snow so far, not including Friday's storm. This time last year, it had received 41.5 inches of snow.

Friday's storm also prompted Hawthorne Racecourse to cancel its Thoroughbred racing after Friday's fourth race.

Saturday could bring more snow before 1 p.m. with clouds and a high temperature of 38 degrees. Easter Sunday offers a 30 percent chance of snow in the morning with clouds and temperatures topping 37 degrees.

Spring snow by the numbers

• May 11, 1966: Latest observed snowfall with accumulation.

• June 2, 1910: Latest observed snowfall without accumulation.

• 25 inches: Snowfall between March 25 to April 2, 1970.