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Cleanup continues from Tuesday's storm, more on the way
By Lee Filas | Daily Herald Staff

An IDOT snow plow clears Butterfield Road in Wheaton as the snow begins to build during rush hour on Tuesday.


Ed Lee | Staff Photographer

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Published: 12/17/2008 7:32 AM | Updated: 12/17/2008 11:45 AM

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The five inches of snow that fell Tuesday night has been pushed aside in most areas, but that is little consolation for most motorists who spent Tuesday evening crawling along unplowed highways on their way home.

In addition, officials are urging people to continue to use extreme caution while driving Wednesday morning because icy patches remain on most main roads and side streets.

And there's more on the way. A winter storm watch is in effect from Thursday afternoon through Friday morning.

Freezing rain, snow and sleet are expected Thursday afternoon, although little or no accumulation is expected. Highs will be in the mid 20s. More freezing rain is expected Thursday night with significant ice accumulation according to the National Weather Service.

The winter weather advisory that called for up to five inches of snowfall Tuesday came true as the snow started falling at about 1 p.m. across the Chicago area.

By 4 p.m., more than two inches of snow was on the ground, causing delays of up to four hours for some motorists stuck in traffic and inching home. The heaviest snow seemed to fall right as rush hour began at about 4:30 or 5 p.m.

By the time the snow stopped, the National Weather Service said most Cook and Lake county suburbs accumulated up to 5 inches of snow. O'Hare reported 4 inches of snow while Midway Airport saw 3 and a half inches.

To add insult to injury, snow plows could only maneuver as fast as the traffic would allow, which added to longer travel times.

O'Hare Airport announced more than 300 flights were canceled Tuesday night due to the snowfall. More than 50 flights were canceled at Midway during the same span.

Despite the snowfall ending last night, the morning commute remains challenging in some areas, officials said.

Illinois Department of Transportation crews are still working on arterial state roads in the suburbs. In addition, salt trucks remain on the highways trying to melt slick and icy patches.

But, that didn't stop a major 10 car accident on I-55 near Crestwood early Wednesday. The accident at the Des Plaines River bridge blocked all lanes and increased travel times to more than an hour. Ambulances, fire department personnel and state police were called to the scene of the accident, though details and the number of injured remains unclear at this time.

Snow related accidents and spin outs have also been reported in Elk Grove Village, Buffalo Grove, and Vernon Hills.

In addition, work crews remain on the scene of a major gas leak in Hanover Park. Police said a snow plow hit a gas line on Irving Park Road late last night. Irving Park has been shut down between Barrington Road and Jensen Blvd. while the gas line is repaired.

The Illinois State Police continue to keep their emergency snow plan in place for the highways. The plan states that if motorists are involved in an accident, and the vehicles are still drivable, the people are asked to exchange information and drive to a police station and file a report there.