A day that started with freezing rain quickly turned into a winter storm Thursday with between 4 and 6 inches of snow falling over much of the McHenry County area, according to the National Weather Service.
The heavy snow clogged the roadways, bringing the evening commute to a grueling halt as plows scrambled to keep up and several accidents were reported due to slick conditions.
The winter storm warning ended at midnight today.
Freezing rain yesterday turned to pure rain as daytime temperatures topped freezing. The precipitation then fell – heavily at times – as snow when temperatures retreated.
The changeover from rain to snow occurred much quicker than meteorologists expected.
"The big question yesterday was when the change from rain to snow was going to occur, and it happened much quicker than we anticipated," meteorologist Stephen Rodriguez said. "Everything evolved rapidly, and Lake and McHenry counties got the worst of it."
Beach Park in Lake County recorded the highest total snowfall, with close to 10 inches. In McHenry County, 6.5 inches of snow fell in Bull Valley.
Motorists are still being urged to use caution on the roadways during Friday's morning commute, as winds out of the north could cause some drifting snow in open areas, Rodriguez said.
Today's forecast includes mostly cloudy skies with temperatures in the upper 20s. Some sun could reach the area in the afternoon. The high temperature is expected to be 31 degrees.
— Lawerence Synett
Thursday’s snowstorm brought treacherous road conditions, snarled traffic across McHenry County and slowed the evening commute to a crawl.
“If you must travel, please be patient,” the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office advised in a statement. “If you do not need to travel, please stay home.”
A winter weather warning was in effect until midnight.
The Accuweather.com forecast calls for a high of 33 degrees today and Saturday with little chance of precipitation. Sunday’s high will reach 41 degrees, with light rain in the afternoon and scattered showers in the evening, Accuweather said.
On Thursday, freezing rain turned to pure rain as daytime temperatures topped freezing. The precipitation then fell – heavily at times – as snow when temperatures retreated. Light to moderate snow fell into the evening before tapering off. Accumulation of 4 to 8 inches was expected.
The National Weather Service called it a “heart attack” snowfall because it was wet and heavy. “It is very easy to overexert yourself shoveling snow this heavy and wet,” a spokesperson said.
“Traffic is dissipating, so the plows are actually able to plow the roads,” Algonquin police Officer Ruth Remington said about 7:30 p.m.
In spite of the conditions, local authorities had reported no accidents with serious injuries late Thursday.
Roads in the afternoon and during the evening commute were a mess, though.
A three-vehicle accident in early afternoon caused lane closures and snarled traffic at Routes 31 and 62 in downtown Algonquin.
On Facebook, Northwest Herald readers reported slow going and hazardous conditions in Algonquin, Woodstock, Crystal Lake, Marengo, McHenry and elsewhere.
Authorities warned motorists to avoid Route 31 between Crystal Lake and McHenry because drivers were having trouble negotiating the hill. McHenry police closed southbound Route 31 about 4:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. because of slippery conditions.
The commute home from work was long and dangerous for many.
Area dispatchers reported several weather-related accidents in the early evening hours, even in slow-moving traffic. Motorists reported bad driving conditions on Routes 31, 14, 176 and elsewhere.McHenry County cleans up after winter weatherWinter Blast - Northwest Herald Photo Store