Commuters trudge to work through a dusting of snow on Wells Street in Chicago this morning. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Tribune)
"Every Chicago resident should brace for a storm that will be remembered for a long time," said Jose Santiago, head of the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications. "There is no reason to believe, at this point, that the storm will miss the city."
The blizzard warning for Tuesday and Wednesday forecasts up to 20 inches of snow. Wind gusts of up to 60 mph will create whiteout conditions, making travel nearly impossible, possibly flooding stretches of the lakefront and knocking down power lines.
The snow is expected to hit between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. today, falling at 1 to 2 inches per hour. The worst is expected to come between 9 p.m. today and 5 a.m. Wednesday with a snowfall rate of 3 to 4 inches per hour, Santiago said. Lake effect snow could add an additional 6 inches.
Winds are expected to reach 50 mph inland and 60 mph near the lake, where authorities have issued a lake shore flood watch from noon today until Wednesday afternoon.
Waves at the shoreline are expected to reach up to 25 feet, Santiago said.
The Chicago OEMC was to open its emergency control center at noon. The multi-agency center will be located on the third floor of OEMC's office building on Madison. From there, authorities will monitor conditions around the city through street cameras, Santiago said.
Santiago reminded drivers they must yield to emergency vehicles and should not drive unless absolutely necessary.
Landlords must also remember that heat must be kept at 68 degrees during the day and 66 degrees at night, he said.
Residents in need of shelter can head to local warming shelters, libraries, and police and fire stations, Santiago said.
"This storm will task the cities resources and test the patience of Chicago residents," Santiago said.
Chicago's Department of Streets and Sanitation will utilize its full flee of 274 trucks plus 120 garbage trucks with quick hitch plows to clear main routes and Lake Shore Drive.
Department head Tom Byrne reminded residents that cars parked on streets with a 2-inch snow ban will be towed. "We will relocate cars if necessary," Byrne said. "This is a matter of public safety."
Byrne also said that snow cleared from cars should be put on parkways instead of the street.
The Streets and Sanitation Department will be receiving assistance Wednesday morning from the Department of Water and Transportation to help dig out critical areas around the city.
The Chicago Transit Authority plans to run longer trains more often to keep tracks clear of snow and the third rail, which powers the trains, from icing over.....