Snow snarls Monday evening commute in McHenry County

McHenry Police activate emergency snow plan

McHENRY – McHenry police activated an emergency snow plan Monday evening as a sprawling storm system slickened the area with slush and turned portions of Route 31 into a parking lot.

The National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook late Monday afternoon in McHenry County because of a high risk of snow and wind.

Although meteorologists expected snow to fall at rates of an inch an hour, the storm system fizzled by 7 p.m. – but not before stalling traffic and causing minor crashes on icy roads.

“The snow is done,” National Weather Service meteorologist Gino Izzi said about 7 p.m. Monday. “At this point, it’s going to be windy and quite cold.”

Less than two weeks from the first day of winter, McHenry County residents are now in store for the coldest temperatures yet.

Temperatures will fall into the teens Tuesday morning and struggle to reach the 20s in the afternoon, Izzi said. Northwest winds of 30 mph will make the day feel much colder than it is, holding wind chills in the single digits all day.

The National Weather Service is tracking another storm that could bring a quick shot of snow Wednesday.

“We’ll be watching that,” Izzi said.

Monday’s icy weather affected the commute across northern Illinois, where visibility dropped to as low as one quarter of a mile at times, according to the National Weather Service.

“The combination of a quick snow accumulation on some roads and low visibility will result in hazardous travel conditions,” the National Weather Service said in a statement. “Leave extra time to reach your destination and use caution driving. Slow down on snow-covered roads and in low visibility.”

The surprise snowfall made for a busy night of traffic-related calls to police, according to local authorities.

“We’ve been getting a lot of traffic calls that appear to be directly related to the weather,” Crystal Lake police Sgt. Lucas Behning said.

One incident happened about 5 p.m. at the intersection of Routes 14 and 176, where a car slid on a slick patch of road into the back of a school bus. No one was injured in the crash and no children were on the bus. Behning did not know which school district the bus belonged to.

Marengo Fire Protection District Captain Mark Pankow said a lot drivers had trouble managing the slippery roads.

“The snow comes with slick roads, and there were a lot of people spinning out,” Pankow said. “We don’t get called out for those.” 

About 3:30 p.m., on a stretch of Route 12 west of Spring Grove Road, a semitrailer slid through the snow, jackknifed and crashed into a car. One person suffered minor injuries in the weather-induced crash, Spring Grove fire Capt. Joe Christopherson said.

About 5:35 p.m., police sent out a Nixle alert warning motorists to avoid Route 31 south of Bull Valley because of heavy traffic. In some cases, motorists tripled their commute times waiting for traffic to inch through the snowstorm.

Crystal Lake police offered some tips for motorists thinking about driving in snowy weather.

“Use common sense,” Behning said. “Slow down and make sure there’s enough distance between yourself and the person driving in front of you.”

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