1,200 flights canceled at O’Hare as snow piles up in Chicago area
BY BECKY SCHLIKERMAN Staff Reporter January 4, 2014 7:34PM
Bulls fans cross s to the United Center on Saturday night. | AP Photo
Updated: February 6, 2014 6:48AM
Come Monday, it looks like Chicago will be more like “ChiBeria,” with as much as 10 inches of new snow expected to pile up in some areas over the weekend, followed by a deep freeze starting Sunday evening that forecasters say could drop temperatures to 15 to 20 degrees below zero.
A winter storm warning is in effect until 6 p.m. Sunday for all Chicago-area counties, according to the National Weather Service. The snow is expected to continue falling into the early evening.
As of 12:10 a.m. Sunday, another three inches of snow had accumulated, and the snow was still falling, according to the weather service.
Then at 6 p.m. Sunday, a wind chill warning will go into effect and last through noon Tuesday, according to the weather service.
As of 7:50 a.m. Sunday, nearly 1,200 flights had been canceled at O’Hare International Airport, and all flights were experiencing minor delays as crew worked to de-ice planes and runways, according to the city’s Department of Aviation.
At least 60 flights were cancelled at Midway Airport, but most other flights were still on time, the department said.
It’s expected to be the Chicago area’s biggest chill in nearly 20 years and could break records, according to the weather service.
With wind gusts of up to 35 miles an hour forecast, that could drop the windchill factor to minus-40 to 50 degrees on Monday, said National Weather Service meteorologist Richard Castro, who melded Chicago and Siberia to come up with ChiBeria to describe the arctic chill — a term that took off on Twitter Saturday night.
Starting Sunday night, weather conditions around Chicago, including blowing snow, will be “life-threatening,” Castro said.
“People should postpone any non-emergency travel during this period of dangerous cold,” he said.
On Saturday, anticipating the frigid weather, people flocked to grocery stores to stock up. Alexis BernardiReis watched the frenzy from her apartment, which faces a Jewel on the North Side.
“I’d rather survive on avocados and K-Cups than go into that Jewel,” said BernardiReis, 31. “It’s been insane.”
Julie Nakis stopped at a Jewel in River North for milk, popcorn and fruit.
“Everybody was in the same boat,” said Nakis, 25. “They just wanted to get their grocery shopping done and not worry about leaving the house tomorrow or Monday.”
Saturday night, the city of Chicago had 200 snow plows and salt spreaders out, said Molly Poppe, the spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Streets and Sanitation.
The Illinois Tollway’s fleet was out in full force as well, with 182 plows on the roads Saturday night, the agency said.
The city’s warming centers will be open for extended hours — from 9 a.m to 8 p.m. — Sunday through Tuesday.
Contributing: Mitch Armentrout, George Slefo