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Snowstorm could dump 8 inches; more than 1,100 flights canceled

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The Chicago area is digging out from under the biggest snowstorm since the blizzard of February, 2011.

The storm, forecast to dump up to a foot of snow in some areas, forced the cancellation of over 1,200 flights at O’Hare and Midway, slammed the brakes on the Tuesday evening rush and prompted many schools and workplaces to close their doors early.

In Chicago, main streets should be clear for the Wednesday morning rush, according to the Department of Streets and Sanitation but suburban drivers may encounter sloppy roads on their trek to work.

The flakes started to fall Tuesday morning across an area stretching from DeKalb and McHenry counties across the city and into Indiana.

By 4 p.m. Tuesday, O’Hare had 6 inches — “the largest single-day total since the Blizzard of 2011,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Jamie Enderlen.

Similar totals were posted in Arlington Heights in the northwest, Lisle in the west, and Mokena in the south. North suburbs, like Gurnee, were showing lower snowfall Tuesday evening, around 4 inches, but more was expected.

By the time the storm was forecast to taper off, the western suburbs in the DuPage area could wind up hardest hit, with up to a foot in some places, according to the Weather Service.

The city of Chicago, IDOT and the Tollway called out all their troops who used hundreds of plows, yet struggled to keep up with the snowfall, which reached an inch an hour in many areas.

At Midway Airport, Southwest Airlines canceled all its flights between 10 a.m and 6 p.m. Tuesday but some flights from other airlines continued to take off.

At O’Hare, a third to half the flights on the screens were blinking red — canceled. Security lines were short, made up of folks like Felice Porcelli, 22, who had checked their smart phones to make sure their flights were good to go.

“Mine’s on time,” said Porcelli, heading to Seattle.

But nine athletes of the University of Sioux Falls track team were bounced from a United flight to the national championships in Birmingham, Alabama. However the airline got them spots on a Delta flight to Atlanta, where they’ll drive the rest of the way. “Hopefully we’ll get out of here and won’t have to spend the night, said assistant coach Reid Johnson.

Passengers traveling Wednesday were advised to check their airline’s website to confirm flight status.

And at McCormick Place, it was a ghost town for the last day of the Housewares show. Ordinarily, “The place would be packed,” said Bruce Burrows of coffeemaker iCoffee. “There is no one left.”

Burrows said attendees panicked that if they didn’t leave early Tuesday morning, they would have to stay in Chicago for another day or two to catch a flight home.

Contributing: Sandra Guy



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