A powerful winter storm has wreaked havoc on Chicagoland

A powerful winter storm that traveled across the Great Lakes has left Chicagoland facing blizzard-like conditions. It’s currently 26 degrees in downtown Chicago and more than 8 inches of snow have already blanketed its streets. Areas to the north and northwest of the city have reportedly accumulated 8-9 inches of snow. The National Weather Service (NWS) Chicago predicts that snowfall will taper off by roughly 3 p.m. this afternoon.

“Snow will gradually end later this morning, but before it does it will continue to accumulate on top of snow from last night. This has created major travel impacts this morning. Please be extremely safe if you must travel this a.m. & consider postponing until later,” tweeted the NWS.

All Chicago Public Schools, and schools in surrounding suburbs, have been canceled today for its roughly 390,000 students.

“Due to the extreme weather forecast, classes for all CPS students will be canceled on Friday, February 9,” school officials tweeted Thursday afternoon in anticipation of the storm.

Although the storm should cease within the next two hours, meteorologists expect an additional 1-2 inches of snow to fall on Saturday morning and then an extra 1-3 inches of snow on Sunday morning. Hence, forecasters expect total snow accumulations to approach nearly 15 inches. Such a snowfall would equate to one of Chicago’s largest winter storms in recent memory.

“Our city is tackling the first major snowstorm we have seen in several years – and it’s clear that Chicagoans are rising to the challenge,” said Mayor Emanuel. “I ask everyone to keep exercising good judgment and remain indoors if at all possible, to take the warnings and advisories seriously, and to check on the well-being of family, friends and neighbors.”

The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) reported at 11 a.m. that in excess of 800 flights have been canceled at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and another 300 flights have been canceled at Chicago Midway International Airport. The Department of Streets & Sanitation deployed 280 salt spreaders and snowplows last night and the Illinois Department of Transportation took a similar approach to clearing the streets. Barring an emergency, drivers are urged to avoid traveling and stay indoors. The winter storm warning will remain in effect until 6 p.m.

Marjani Williams, the director of public affairs at Chicago Department of Streets & Sanitation, did not respond to a voice message or email for this story.