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More than 350 flights canceled as snow to fall at an inch per hour Saturday

Ismael Carreno brushes snow from his car parked Albany Ave. Chicago's northwest side Saturday morning. | Michael R. Schmidt-For Sun-Times

Ismael Carreno brushes the snow from his car parked on Albany Ave. on Chicago's northwest side Saturday morning. | Michael R. Schmidt-For Sun-Times Media

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Chicago will have snow fall at one inch per hour Saturday until about 9 a.m., with totals ranging from 6 to 8-inches by the end of the day.

“We’re in a period where Chicago is seeing some moderate to heavy snowfall during this burst,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Friedlein. “This particular snow is heavy, and is a bit different than what we experienced during the first week of January.”

As of 8:15 a.m. Saturday, airlines at O’Hare International Airport had canceled 350 flights due to winter weather conditions, while 100 flights were canceled at Midway International Airport, the city’s Department of Aviation said.

Warmer temperatures are a result of air pushed up from the Gulf of Mexico, Friedlein said.

“This snow is a little bit different than the Alberta Clipper; that was a system that came from Canada,” Friedlein said. “The mix we’re getting now is from the Gulf, which won’t bring the cold air with it.”

Early Saturday, firefighters pulled a woman from the icy waters of Lake Michigan on the North Side.

A witness saw the 31-year-old woman fall through the ice about 7 a.m. in the 2700 block of North Recreation Drive, Fire Media Affairs spokesman Juan Hernandez said. A firefighter crawled out on the truck’s ladder and pulled the woman from the water.

She was taken in serious-to-stable condition to Weiss Memorial Hospital, Hernandez said.

It was not immediately known what the woman was doing near Lake Michigan or how she came to fall through the ice, but Hernandez said there were icy water conditions and low visibility due to heavy snowfall.

“The water’s cold and the ice is often not as thick as people think,” Hernandez said.

Meanwhile, The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for Cook, DuPage, Will, McHenry and Lake counties in Illinois, and Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Jasper and Newton counties in Indiana, in effect from until 6 p.m. Saturday.

Illinois State Police are cautioning drivers in the Chicago area that white out conditions are possible. Drivers are asked to be aware of black ice and carry emergency supplies in their vehicles.

The Illinois Tollway deployed its full fleet of 182 snow plows and salt spreaders to clear roadways on its 286-mile system, the agency reported. Since the snow began falling Friday night, tollway crews and Illinois State Police have assisted more than three dozen motorists with services such as changing car batteries and calling for tows.

“We are asking our customers to avoid traveling unless it is necessary so our snowplows can more easily clear the roads of snow and ice,” Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur said in a statement.



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