Snow that's expected to carry into New Year's Day slowed commuters and revelers alike Tuesday evening as it blanketed the area in 2 to 4 inches before the new year.
By 10 p.m., 3.2 inches were reported in Elk Grove Village, 3.6 in Evanston, 2.3 inches in St. Charles, 3.9 inches in Algonquin, 3.2 inches in Elgin, 3.5 in McHenry, 4.2 inches in Cary, 4 inches in Riverwoods, and 2.1 in Oak Brook.
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Snow coated roads and slowed traffic while Illinois State Police officers stayed busy throughout the night with spinouts and cars in the ditch. Officers reported no major injuries as of 10 p.m.
"We're dealing with a high volume of calls and crashes that are typical to this type of weather in the Chicagoland area," said Illinois State Police Dist. 15 Master Sgt. Matt Hodgdon said. "We're responding to crashes but nothing major."
Flights at both O'Hare International Airport and Midway Airport Tuesday evening were delayed 20 minutes or more and more than 150 flights were proactively canceled at O'Hare.
The National Weather Service predicts up to 8 inches of snow in much of northern Illinois including the Chicago area. A winter weather advisory through Wednesday morning affects Rockford, DeKalb, Chicago and other cities north of Route 30.
"It won't be as constant (in the next couple of days) as it's looking to be earlier (Tuesday) evening during rush hour and continuing through the evening," meteorologist Charles Mott said.
Snow started falling Tuesday afternoon around 2 p.m. at O'Hare International Airport and throughout the region all the way south to Interstate 80.
By 7 p.m., O'Hare International Airport reported an inch of snowfall, Rockford 1.7 inches, .9 inches at Midway Airport and 1.8 inches in St. Charles, according to meteorologists.
Experts expect snow to taper before lake effect snow begins Wednesday night and into Thursday. That could bring an additional 6 inches for Lake and Cook counties in Illinois and Lake County, Ind.
Slick and snow-covered roads are expected to make travel hazardous. Visibility may be limited.
"The roads are going to be snow-covered here for the next few days through Thursday, so use caution while driving," Mott said. "With the heavier snowfalls, the visibility will be reduced and that's another reason to use caution while driving."
The Illinois Tollway is putting its full fleet of 182 snowplows on the road. Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur asked drivers to slow down, give snowplows the space they need and allow extra time to get to their destinations. The tollway is also canceling all temporary lane closures in response to the weather.
Many tollway oases are offering free coffee on New Year's Eve starting at 9 p.m. Free coffee will be served at the Des Plaines oasis and the Belvidere oasis on the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway; the Lake Forest, O'Hare, Hinsdale and Chicago Southland Lincoln oases on the Tri-State Tollway and the DeKalb oasis on the Reagan Memorial Tollway.
Gov. Pat Quinn took to Twitter to urge Illinois residents in snowy regions to drive with extreme caution.
National Weather Service forecasters say anyone venturing out on New Year's Eve should wear layers and have a place to warm up because temperatures are dropping and wind could make it feel like it's below zero.
Organizers have canceled the annual New Year's Day canoe trip on the north branch of the Chicago River because parts of the river are freezing over, raising safety concerns. Parts of southern Illinois could see light snow starting Wednesday.
Local officials and authorities are urging extra caution on the roads with the festivities and possible snowy weather.