In advance of the anticipated severe winter storm expected to hit the entire state, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday issued a disaster declaration and activated approximately 130 members of the Illinois National Guard to ensure all state resources are available to deal with the heavy snow, ice, and blizzard conditions expected over the coming days.
The governor is directing Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) to coordinate a robust, statewide response which will include more than 1,800 Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) trucks and equipment, Illinois State Police (ISP) patrols to help stranded motorists, and approximately 130 members of the Illinois National Guard.
“On the ground, all state assets stand ready to assist. I encourage everyone to do what you can to stay safe: listen to local authorities to stay up to date with the latest conditions in your community and make sure your household has essentials,” said Pritzker.
In central Illinois, along the Interstate 55, 57, 70 and 72 corridors, snow totals are expected to range between 6 and 20 inches, with the highest amounts in the Springfield, Bloomington, Champaign areas and as far north as Kankakee. Because of the intensity and amounts of snow, travel is expected to be dangerous and strongly discouraged.
Across the Chicago area, trace accumulations to more than a foot of snow are predicted. Significant ice and sleet accumulations are possible in much of southern Illinois, creating extremely slippery surfaces and slick conditions. The far northwest region of the state, Rockford and the Quad Cities, are expected to miss much of the storm.
Blowing and drifting snow will create hazardous conditions Wednesday night and Thursday, with winds gusting to 30 mph. Colder air will bring subzero temperatures by Friday morning.
IEMA’s State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield will be activated to coordinate the state’s response to the storm. Representatives from relevant state agencies will staff the SEOC 24 hours a day throughout the storm and quickly deploy resources to impacted communities.
“We’re working closely with local emergency management officials throughout the state to monitor conditions and be ready to provide assistance they may need,” said Scott Swinford, deputy director of IEMA. “But it’s also important that people prepare themselves for this storm with food, water, working flashlights, weather radios, and other necessities.”
The Illinois National Guard will serve as a critical force multiplier for the Illinois State Police , who will be deploying teams of troopers to assist stranded motorists across the state.
Guard units will initially be deployed to ISP Districts 9 in Springfield, 10 in Pesotum, 18 in Litchfield, 20 in Pittsfield and 21 in Ashkum, helping reduce response times and capacity to reach motorists.
From Springfield, ISP will be monitoring conditions on the ground and shifting personnel based on the trajectory of the storm.
“The men and women of the ISP stand ready to face the challenges mother nature has in store and, like we always do, will rise to the occasion,” stated Illinois State Police Director Brendan F. Kelly. With Illinois National Guard assistance, “service to the public will be greatly augmented, reducing first responder response times to stranded motorists,” he said.
Statewide, IDOT will deploy more than 1,800 trucks and equipment to plow, treat roads and respond to weather emergencies.
“All of our available manpower and equipment will be ready to respond and out in force, but we need the public’s cooperation as well,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “During all severe weather, ask yourself if your trip is truly necessary or can be postponed. Anticipate conditions to be treacherous at times, with much longer travel times extending for several days.”
For regular updates on statewide road conditions, visit www.gettingaroundillinois.com. For additional information about winter storm preparedness measures and important updates throughout the storm, visit the Ready Illinois website at https://www2.illinois.gov/ready/Pages/default2.aspx.