Information provided by the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, and Cook County
LANSING, Ill. (January 25, 2021) – The Illinois Department of Transportation is warning the public that a major winter storm will impact travel across the state, with the potential to drop several inches of snow across northern Illinois and hail and freezing rain expected in regions to the south. The public is advised to plan accordingly and anticipate deteriorating conditions, slick roads and much longer travel times.
Heavy snow and gusty winds
In a text alert at 3:01 p.m. Monday, Cook County said, “A winter storm producing 4″-7″ of snow and wind gusts 30-40 mph will move through Cook County beginning around 4:00 p.m.”
The National Weather Service has issued a storm warning, predicting heavy snow to begin falling this afternoon and into Tuesday. Between an inch and up to 8 inches of snow is expected between Springfield and the Wisconsin border, with heavier totals up north. Freezing rain and possibly hail are predicted in central and southern Illinois, with road conditions potentially becoming hazardous.
“Our crews at IDOT are mobilized and prepared for the return of winter weather this week,” said Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “As always in periods of inclement weather, the safest option is to stay home. If you must drive, slow down, give the road your undivided attention and please do not crowd our plows.”
The department will have available more than 1,800 trucks and equipment statewide, applying salt, treating roads and responding to other weather emergencies. Drivers that encounter a plow or any maintenance vehicle during travels are advised to slow down, increase following distance, and remain patient.
“If you must travel, we ask that you allow additional time to reach your destination and ensure your vehicle is in a safe operating condition,” said Illinois State Police Director Brendan F. Kelly. “Please obey all traffic laws and posted speed limits. Remember, speed limits are set for clear conditions. Only drive the speed limit if it is safe to do so. And please watch out for emergency responders and highway maintainers who are doing their best to keep the roadways safe.”
Additional travel tips
- Take it slow, especially when approaching intersections, ramps, bridges and shaded areas that are prone to icing.
- Make sure your gas tank is full.
- Keep a cell phone, warm clothes, blankets, food, water, a first-aid kit, washer fluid and an ice scraper in your vehicle.
- Check the forecast and make sure someone is aware of your route and schedule.
- Carry a cellphone and dial *999 in the Chicago area for assistance in case of emergency.
- Reminder: Using handheld phones while driving is illegal in Illinois, unless it is an emergency situation.
- If you are involved in a crash, remain inside your vehicle. Exiting your vehicle into live traffic can have fatal consequences.
- Always wear a seat belt, whether you’re sitting in the front seat or back seat. It’s the law.
Home heating tips
Proper home heating is a critical issue during the winter months, and over time has proven deadly for many families. Every year, more than 400 people die in the U.S. from accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. CO is found in fumes produced any time you burn fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, or furnaces. CO can build up indoors and poison people and animals who breathe it. Some additional home heating tips are below:
- Never use a generator inside your home, basement or garage.
- Do not use a stove or oven as a home heating sources
- If using a space heater, keep it at least three feet away from flammable items such as curtains, blankets and sofas.
- Know the signs for carbon monoxide poisoning: headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.
To help Illinoisans prepare for winter weather, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service developed a Winter Weather Preparedness Guide to help Illinois residents stay safe during winter weather. The IEMA also maintains the Ready Illinois website which includes critical safety information to help Illinoisans before, during and after any hazard, man-made or natural.
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