Some suburban schools close in anticipation of winter storm
SUN-TIMES MEDIA and ASSOCIATED PRESS February 21, 2013 11:34AM
Updated: February 23, 2013 10:22AM
Schools in northern Kane County and parts of McHenry County announced Thursday night they will be closed Friday in anticipation of a winter storm that is expected to drop up to 6 inches of snow across the Chicago area.
For a complete listing, click on the emergency school closings link below.
The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory from 9 p.m. Thursday and until 6 p.m. Friday with the possibilty of 3 to 6 inches of snow that will change over to and possible mix with light freezing drizzle Friday morning.
There could be a period of heavy snow with fall rates of an inch per hour possible late Thursday evening into the overnight hours with possible wind gusts of 25 to 30 mph that may cause blowing snow and reduced visibility, the service warns.
The storm has already socked parts fof the Midwest with blinding snow, at times accompanied by thunder and lightning, bombarding much of the nation’s midsection Thursday, causing whiteout conditions, making major roadways all but impassable and shutting down schools and state legislatures.
Kansas was the epicenter of the winter storm, with parts of Wichita buried under 14 inches of powdery snow, but winter storm warnings stretched eastern Colorado through Illinois. Freezing rain and sleet were forecast for southern Missouri, southern Illinois and Arkansas. St. Louis was expected to get all of the above — a treacherous mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain.
Topeka got 3 inches of snow in one 30-minute period, leaving medical center worker Jennifer Carlock to dread the drive home.
“It came on fast,” Carlock said as she shoveled around her car. “We’re going to test out traction control on the way home.”
Snow totals passed the foot mark in many places: Monarch Pass, Colo., had 17 1/2 inches, Hutchinson, Kan., 14 inches and Wichita, Kan., 13 inches. A few places in far northern Oklahoma saw between 10 to 13 1/2 inches of snow. The National Weather Service said up to 18 inches of snow were possible in central Kansas.
Most schools in Kansas and Missouri, and many in neighboring states, were closed. Legislatures shut down early in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Nebraska and Iowa.
By midmorning Thursday, the snowfall was so heavy that Kansas City International Airport shut down. About 90 flights were also cancelled at Lambert Airport in St. Louis.
“Thundersnow” accompanied the winter storm in parts of Kansas and Missouri, which National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Truett said is the result of an unstable air mass, much like a thunderstorm.
“Instead of pouring rain, it’s pouring snow,” Truett said. And pouring was a sound description, with snow falling at a rate of 1 1/2 to 2 inches per hour in some spots.
While heavy in nature, the snow itself is powdery, said weather service meteorologist Suzanna Sortin. She said the Wichita area had received between 11 and 13 inches of snow by midmorning, and places like Salina, Russell and Great Bend were expected to get up to 18 inches of snow.
The St. Louis region prepared with some uncertainty. Depending on the temperature and the trajectory of the storm, St. Louis could get snow, freezing rain, ice, sleet or all or some of the above. Crews were hoping to spread enough salt to keep at least the major roadways moving.