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Snow, subzero temperatures, high winds to create dangerous driving conditions

The Illinois Department of Transportation and Illinois State Police are advising the public that a potent winter storm starting tonight is anticipated to create dangerous travel conditions in much of the state, with significant snow totals, severe cold and high winds continuing into the weekend. 

Slick and slippery conditions, reduced visibility, subzero wind chills and much longer travel times are expected.

“Before heading out during any severe weather event, always ask yourself: Is this trip necessary or can it be postponed?” Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman said. “The team at IDOT will be out in force, but the public should be prepared for extremely difficult travel these next few days. Expect trips to take much longer than usual and please make sure you are ready should your vehicle break down.”

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning and advisory beginning tonight through Friday for much of the northern half of the state. Snow accumulations are expected to range between 2 and 12 inches, with the highest totals north of Interstate 80 and in northwest Illinois. Between 3 and 8 inches are anticipated in the Chicago area. Significant rain is forecast for parts of central and southern Illinois.  

Starting Friday, wind gusts of up to 50 mph will create blowing and drifting, reducing visibility and challenging efforts to combat snow and ice. 

Temperatures will drop below zero degrees with wind chill factors between minus 10 and minus 35. Due to the sustained high winds and severe cold, the effectiveness of materials to treat roads will be diminished, with icy conditions expected to persist into the weekend throughout Illinois.  

If you must travel, drive according to conditions, slowing down, increasing braking distances and allowing more space between you and other vehicles. Do not crowd the plows – give them plenty of room and do not attempt to pass too closely. Conditions in front of the plow are going to be worse than behind it.

Statewide, IDOT once again will have available more than 1,800 trucks and equipment to treat roads, spread salt, plow snow and respond to weather emergencies.

Tips if you must travel:

  • Check current road conditions any time at GettingAroundIllinois.com. You also can follow IDOT on Facebook and X.
  • Check the forecast and make sure someone is aware of your travel route and schedule.
  • Fill up your tank or fully charge your vehicle and pack winter weather essentials, such as a cellphone charger, warm clothes, blankets, food, water, first-aid kit, washer fluid and ice scraper.
  • Use extra caution in areas susceptible to icing, including ramps, bridges, curves and shaded areas. Watch for black ice. A road may appear clear but can be extremely slippery.
  • Obey the Move Over law by slowing down and changing lanes when approaching any stopped vehicle.
  • Always wear a seat belt. It’s the law and your best protection in the event of a crash.
  • Put down the mobile devices. This, too, is the law.
  • If you are involved in a crash, remain inside your vehicle. Exiting your vehicle near a busy road can have fatal consequences.

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