A late-winter storm packing up to 10 inches of snow sent officials in weather-hardened Chicago into action Tuesday to prevent a repeat of scenes from two years ago, when hundreds of people in cars and buses were stranded on the city’s marquee thoroughfare during a massive blizzard.
The storm was part of a system that started in Montana, hit the Dakotas and Minnesota on Monday and then barreled through Wisconsin and Illinois on its way to Washington, D.C., where it was expected late Tuesday night. As the storm pushed toward the Mid-Atlantic region, people there were gathering supplies, and airlines were canceling flights.
Since the 2011 blizzard that dumped 20 inches on Chicago, the nation’s third-largest city has had it pretty easy snow-wise, with a relatively mild winter last year and a slow start this year. The storm that was moving through the Midwest on Tuesday dumped 6 inches at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport by 4 p.m.
Preparations for Tuesday’s storm, including warnings to commuters that it was coming, may have paid off. Illinois Department of Transportation spokesman Mike Claffey said in an email that traffic was lighter than normal on Chicago expressways Tuesday afternoon, an indication that many people took public transportation instead of cars. Claffey also said there were no reports of any major traffic accidents.
Schools were closed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois.
In western Wisconsin, a semi-trailer slid off a snow-covered interstate near Menomonie and into the Red Cedar River, killing one person. The search for a second person, believed to be a passenger, was suspended overnight.
Airlines canceled more than 1,100 flights at Chicago airports, prompting delays and closures at others.