High winds, ice and snow mix make for hazardous roads

The Illinois Department of Transportation is advising the public that a major storm with heavy rains, flooding and double-digit snowfalls will create slick conditions, impacting travel across much of the state through Thursday night.

The mixture of precipitation and rapidly changing weather likely will produce the potential for sudden icing on roads, with high winds leading to blowing snow and reduced visibility.

“The Illinois Department of Transportation’s snow-and-ice teams will be prepared and out in force, but the public needs to be ready for conditions to change quickly and worsen if they are out on the roads,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “As always during periods of extreme weather, the safest option is to postpone any unnecessary trips and stay home. If you must travel, prepare for very slow and potentially hazardous conditions. And please slow down around our plows and other emergency vehicles, giving them plenty of room to do their jobs.”

The National Weather Service is predicting a wintry mix of precipitation to start with thunderstorms and heavy rain in much of the state this evening, converting to freezing rain overnight before turning to snow Thursday morning. In addition to localized flooding, ice and sleet accumulations are likely, creating extremely slippery surfaces and slick conditions.

Much of the state will see accumulating snow throughout the day Thursday, with the highest totals in the central and north regions.

Up to 10 inches is predicted from Quincy northwest to Pontiac, Bloomington-Normal and Kankakee, with parts of the Chicago area receiving close to 7 inches. Winds in excess of 40 mph will make driving difficult, especially for high-profile vehicles on east-west roads, while causing snow to blow and drift.

Due to the rainy conditions ahead of temperatures falling overnight, the effectiveness of pretreating and salting surfaces in advance of significant snowfall will be limited. The public should anticipate icy conditions even when roads appear clear and greatly reduce speeds.

“As the Illinois State Police plans to take on the unpredictable Illinois weather, we would like to remind motorists to do their part in keeping the roads a safe place,” said Illinois State Police Director Brendan F. Kelly.  “ISP, alongside IDOT and other agencies, will be working in hazardous weather conditions. Please remember to slow down, stay vigilant and move over for ANY vehicle on the side of the road.”

Statewide, IDOT has available more than 1,800 trucks and equipment to plow, treat roads and respond to weather emergencies. If you encounter a plow or any maintenance vehicle during your travels, please slow down, increase your following distance and remain patient. Do not attempt to pass — conditions in front of the plow will be worse than behind it.

Visit www.gettingaroundillinois.com for regular updates on road conditions statewide. You also can follow IDOT on Facebook and Twitter.