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5 inches of snow hit Chicago area overnight

A  Highland Public Works Department snow plow clears Prairie Avenue north of 45th Street during a snowstorm Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. | Joe Puchek~Sun-Times Media
A Highland Public Works Department snow plow clears Prairie Avenue north of 45th Street during a snowstorm Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. | Joe Puchek~Sun-Times Media

The snowstorm that moved into the Chicago area overnight left the city coated with 5 inches of snow by the Wednesday morning commute, with more snow expected to keep falling throughout the morning.

As of 6 a.m. Wednesday, snowfall accumulations were measured at 5 inches at O’Hare International Airport and 4.3 inches at Midway International Airport, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Richard Castro. The NWS office in Romeoville recorded a snowfall of 4.6 inches.

The snow is expected to continue falling through mid-morning and taper off by about noon, Castro said.

A statement from Illinois State Police advised motorists to take caution on the roads, reduce speeds and allow for extra travel time as high winds and whiteout conditions were possible in some areas.

“All of Cook County is snow-covered,” said Illinois State Police District Chicago Sgt. Rodney Collins.

Since 10 p.m. Tuesday, expressways in the Chicago area saw at least 19 minor crashes and 12 vehicles in need of a tow, Collins said. Only three injuries were reported in the crashes, none of which were fatal or life threatening.

“The roads are treacherous,” he said. “But IDOT is out in full force with the salt trucks trying to fight it.”

The Illinois Department of Transportation readied 1,755 snowplows and 3,700 employees to remove snow and ice, and the Illinois Tollway plans to deploy its full fleet of 182 snowplows and more than 200 workers to keep roads clear, according to a statement from Gov. Pat Quinn’s office.

Metra issued a service alert Tuesday morning warning of possible delays and service disruptions during the evening commute into Wednesday.

Multiple delays were reported on the Rock Island District, Union Pacific West and Union Pacific North lines Wednesday mornings. Passengers are advised to allow extra travel time and check their website for service updates.

As of 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, more than 345 flights had been canceled at O’Hare International Airport in anticipation of the weather. Roughly 40 flights were canceled at Midway International Airport.

Wednesday’s highs will remain stuck in the lower 20s, the weather service said. Wednesday night brings another blast of colder weather, when lows ranging from the single digits to 10 below zero could feel more like minus 10 to minus 20 degrees with the wind chill.

The latest round of snow and cold follows a brutal January that ranked as Chicago’s 3rd snowiest and 10th coldest on record, the weather service said. Residents suffered through 33.7 inches of snow and a frigid average temperature of 15.7 degrees -- more than 8 degrees below normal.

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