The winter storm warning for the Chicago area was canceled about six hours ahead of schedule today as snowfall greatly decreased in intensity -- but the morning commute was still slowed by icy roads and blowing snow that caused spin-outs on almost every expressway.
Travel times ran anywhere from half an hour to an hour longer than usual, with the Stevenson Expressway posting the worst delays because of slick roads and crashes. No serious injuries were being reported.
At 8 a.m., Chicago shifted its full complement of snow-fighting equipment from the main streets to the 3,300-mile network of side streets.
The National Weather Service had issued a winter storm warning as the season's first major snowstorm bore down on the Chicago area Thursday morning. It was to remain in effect until 9 a.m. today, but the weather service issued an all-clear bulletin at 2:47 a.m., saying that little or no accumulation was expected for the balance of the day.
In general, 4 to 8 inches were reported throughout the Chicago area. Lincolnwood saw 8.2 inches, 8 inches were reported at New Lenox, 7.9 in Oak Park and 7.1 in Peotone, according to unofficial National Weather Service figures. O'Hare International Airport, the area's official recording station, registered 4.9 inches. Midway got 6 inches.
The next weather worry is extreme cold. Wind chills are expected to drop to 5 below to 10 below across much of the area tonight into Saturday morning. And the weather service continued to warn of blowing and drifting snow.
Police cautioned that roadways are still slick and urged motorists to slow down. The Chicago district of the Illinois state police reported almost 50 accidents overnight.
State police enacted their emergency snow plan. Anyone involved in an accident with no injuries and minimal damage, is asked to exchange information and file a report later.
While the storm warning was canceled in Illinois, it remains in effect for northwest Indiana, where light lake-effect snow was expected to put another inch of snow on the ground before tapering off this morning.
Indiana State Police banned semis with double and triple trailers from traveling on the toll road between the Lake-Porter county line and I-69 until 8 a.m.
Public transit appeared to be in pretty good shape, with neither the CTA nor Metra reporting significant delays. The only problem was on Milwaukee District West Line, where outbound train 2201, due to arrive at the Big Timber station at 7:05 a.m., was not operating due to mechanical problems.
No significant delays were being reported at O'Hare or Midway airports, a day after 500 flights were canceled.
A number of schools around the area this morning said they will start classes later than usual because of the snow and road conditions. A few -- most notably those in the Crete-Monee school district -- decided to shut down for the day. For a complete emergency-closure list, click HERE.
Overall, the storm performed pretty much as advertised: 4-8 inches. Some of the latest totals: O'Hare, 4.9 inches; Midway, 6; Peotone, 7.1; Yorkville, 6.5; Evanston, 6.5; Burnham, 6.2; Crest Hill, 6.2; LaPorte, Ind., 6.1; St. Charles, 6.1; Algonquin, 6; Portage, Ind., 6; Woodstock, 5.5; Schaumburg, 5.3; Elk Grove Vilage, 5.3; DeKalb, 5.3; Elgin, 5.1; Waukegan, 5; Lisle, 5; Orland Hills, 5; Rockford, 4.8; Woodstock, 5.5; Downers Grove, 6.
For a list of totals compiled by the Chicago Weather Center, click HERE.
Today's forecast calls for areas of blowing snow in the morning under cloudy skies. There is a chance of light snow in the morning and a few flurries in the afternoon.
Highs will be in the upper teens to lower 20s, with westerly winds of 10 to 20 mph and gusts to 30 mph. Tonight will be partly cloudy, with lows near zero in the western suburbs to 11 above in downtown Chicago. Wind chills will be as low as zero to 10 below.
Saturday will be partly sunny in the morning before clouding up. There is a 40 percent chance of light snow. Highs will be in the lower 20s. The lowest wind chill readings will be zero to 10 below in the morning.