Blowing snow could affect morning commute

Snowfall growing toward double-digit accumulations in parts of McHenry County made it tough on holiday revelers looking to leave the house for New Year's Day celebrations.

A snow system that moved in the afternoon of New Year's Eve picked back up in 2014. With snow still falling but at a slower rate into the evening hours Wednesday, accumulations across the county were registering between six and 10 inches, said Charles Mott, a Chicago-area National Weather Service meteorologist.

"McHenry County is basically split in half. From the central part of the county east, eight to 10 [inches]," he said. "In the western part of the county, six to eight."

Mott didn't expect snow Wednesday night into Thursday to add much accumulation.

"It's not looking that way because [the system] is slowly sliding south," he said.

McHenry County isn't expected to be hit by the lake effect snow threatening parts of Cook and Lake counties.

The National Weather Service also warned about dangerously cold temperatures and wind chills expected Thursday night, and again Sunday night through Tuesday night.

A wind chill advisory is in effect from 9 p.m. tonight through 10 a.m. Friday.

The forecast was calling for the temperature to dip to 13 below zero Thursday night in Woodstock. The forecasted high on Monday is 7 below zero, with a low of minus 19.

Mark DeVries, maintenance supervisor for the McHenry County Division of Transportation, said crews had been out since 4 p.m. Tuesday. He called roads "passable," but the extended storm has strained efforts.

DeVries deployed a heavy presence of trucks to keep roads clear during New Year's Eve celebrations and sent them back out Wednesday morning after a short break.

But the snow kept falling Wednesday well after 10 a.m., when the forecast had called for it to subside, DeVries said.

"We need the snow to stop, the wind to die down and we need a break," he said Wednesday afternoon.

DeVries pulled his crews off the roads some time Wednesday evening to get them rest, and then started again at 4 a.m. Thursday to prepare for the morning commute.

"We had to get some rest last night," DeVries said. "It's one of those deals where the storn never ended. It's been a long haul but the roads are in good shape. Things cleaned up well, and we are going to focus on blowing snow [Thursday]."

The blowing snow includes mainly east-west roadways, DeVries added.

Inclement weather during December has provided challenges for road crews – draining resources, causing equipment issues and tiring staff, DeVries said.

"Our crews have been running and running and running," he said. "I've got to get them out of the trucks before too long."

According to the National Weather Service, close to 14 inches of snow fell in Libertyville, and 5.1 inches fell at O'Hare International Airport as of about midnight.

Locally, more than 6 inches fell in McHenry, more than 8 inches in Bull Valley and Cary, and more than 9 inches in Richmond.

The snow was affecting some Metra train heading to Chicago on Thursday morning.

• Lawerence Synett contributed to this report.

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