Icy rain ending as temp heads north
BY JON SEIDEL Staff Reporteremail@example.com January 27, 2013 8:26PM
Kirstie Ketterman and Adam Johnson, both of Valparaiso, walk on a freezing rain-covered walkway by the pavilion at the Indiana Dunes State Park in Chesterton, Ind. Sunday January 27, 2013. The weather soon after changed to regular rain. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 1, 2013 7:22PM
Rising temperatures Sunday night into Monday gave hope to transportation officials who tried to stay ahead of a storm that caused slick conditions on area roadways this weekend, but they still urged drivers to be cautious during the Monday morning rush.
“You should definitely allow extra time,” said Mike Claffey, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Though roads were icy and slick in some spots Sunday evening, Claffey said expressways around Chicago were moving well “for the most part.”
But sidewalks were a mess, he said.
He said IDOT would continue to salt through the night while temperatures were expected to tick upward. Even if the ice is cleared, the roads could still be slippery, he said.
The wintry weather forced airlines at O’Hare International Airport to cancel 180 flights by 5 p.m. Sunday. Other inbound and outbound flights were delayed an average of 45 minutes, though Midway Airport was reporting only minor delays, according to the city’s Department of Aviation.
Chicago sent its full fleet of 284 snow plows to salt main roads as the freezing rain began to descend on the metropolitan area Sunday afternoon. Ice accumulations of up to two-tenths of an inch were expected before the temperatures rose above freezing.
The Chicago Transit Authority deployed sleet scrapers early Sunday on every rail line, activating devices that heat the electrified third rail, spokeswoman Lambrini Lukidis said. Trains also ran on a weekday schedule in hopes of preventing ice buildup, she said.
Still, icy conditions may have caused electrical problems that halted two trains early Sunday, temporarily blocking both Green Line branches for more than an hour. Shuttle buses transported affected passengers, and service mostly had returned to normal by 7 p.m.
ComEd said the weather could affect its equipment.
“We’ve increased staffing at our operations center . . . for dispatching crews and beefed up the number of crews we will have available ... to assist with any restoration as needed,” said ComEd spokeswoman Arlana Johnson.
As of 7 p.m. Sunday, 2200 customers were without service, including 1300 in ComEd’s north region, which also includes northwest suburbs such as Elgin, Schaumburg and Buffalo Grove.
“We are out working to get their power restored as quickly as we can,” Johnson said.
But the weather didn’t affect service as much as ComEd had anticipated, she said.
The forecast for Monday called for a high of 47 degrees.
“We don’t expect [the freezing rain] to stick around and start problems into Monday,” Claffey said. “We do see a warming trend overnight that will certainly help. It would be worse if we had an ice storm followed by deep freeze.”