Storm warning: 5 to 9 inches of snow expected by noon Saturday
A winter storm warning is in effect for most counties in northern and western Illinois.
The National Weather Service is warning people who live in Cook, DuPage and Lake counties to brace for snowfall totals reaching from 5 inches to 9 inches overnight Friday into Saturday. People in Kane and McHenry counties are warned they will receive from 5 inches to 8 inches of snow during the storm.
The storm warning that runs until noon on Saturday also warns of gusting winds that can reach as high as 35 mph. Authorities warn travel could be difficult because strong winds will result in blowing and drifting snow. Visibility will be severely reduced, officials said.
ComEd spokesman John Schoen said staffing for emergency outages and similar weather-related problems has been proactively increased through the weekend, with 80 contractor crews to supplement the company's own workers.
In contrast to the heavy, wet snow that fell in November and caused icy conditions, ComEd officials are hopeful that predictions of lighter, fluffier snow this weekend prove correct.
Nevertheless, any strong accumulation of snow on tree branches and power lines can increase the likelihood of damage and power outages, he said.
The Friday afternoon commute at least started gently with only 12 nonweather-related customer outages reported across the entire ComEd network, Schoen said.
The utility company released phone numbers and advice for customers to use ahead of the winter storm.
Reports of downed power lines should be made to 1-800-EDISON1 (1-800-334-7661). Spanish-speaking customers should call 1-800-95-LUCES (1-800-955-8237).
ComEd is urging customers to contact the company immediately if they experience a power outage. They can text OUT to 26633 (COMED) to make a report and receive restoration information and can follow the company on Twitter @ComEd or on Facebook at Facebook.com/ComEd.
Customers can also find information on the location and size of outages as well as estimated restoration times on the interactive outage map at ComEd.com/map.
ComEd officials advise the public not to approach any downed power line and always to assume they are charged and dangerous. People also should avoid approaching ComEd crews while they are working on restorations and not shovel snow onto ComEd equipment.
ComEd has a mobile app for iPhone and Android smartphones that can be downloaded at ComEd.com/app.
• Daily Herald staff writers Lee Filas and Eric Peterson contributed to this report.