National Weather Service recognizes Illinois Tollway as 'StormReady'
DOWNERS GROVE -- The Illinois Tollway was recognized Thursday by the National Weather Service as "StormReady" for being well-prepared to respond quickly and effectively to dangerous weather.
Each winter, the Tollway deploys its fleet of 196 snowplows to clear the five roadways that make up the 294-mile Tollway system in northern Illinois. It employs more than 200 staff and supervisors working around the clock and stockpiles tons of salt and other roadway materials to ensure its more than 1.5 million daily drivers can safely reach their destinations.
The Tollway also deploys round-the-clock Zero Weather Road Patrols to quickly locate and assist customers who become stranded on the Tollway system whenever temperatures or sustained wind chills fall below zero degrees.
"The Illinois Tollway has demonstrated it has the resources and capabilities to save lives and protect property before, during and after extreme weather events," Mike Bardou, warning coordination meteorologist, Chicago National Weather Service, said in a presentation Thursday at Tollway headquarters in Downers Grove. "Being recognized as StormReady, means the Tollway is prepared to manage extreme weather events through advanced planning, effective communication and situational awareness."
The StormReady program was developed by the National Weather Service to help community leaders and emergency managers strengthen their local safety programs by providing clear-cut guidelines on how to improve hazardous weather operations.
In the summer months, the Tollway deploys 24-hour Hot Weather Patrols whenever temperatures or heat indexes rise to hazardous extremes. And, in June 2022, Tollway staff helped respond to a very large and destructive tornado that damaged 225 homes and injured at least eight people in Naperville and Woodridge.