Weekend snow brings shovels, plane sliding off O'Hare runway, but fun for suburban adventurers

  • Carpenter Park in Island Lake was a popular place for sledding Saturday.

      Carpenter Park in Island Lake was a popular place for sledding Saturday. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • This screen grab off ABC 7 Chicago video shows passengers being led off a United plane that skidded off the runway Saturday. Nobody was hurt.

    This screen grab off ABC 7 Chicago video shows passengers being led off a United plane that skidded off the runway Saturday. Nobody was hurt. Courtesy of ABC 7 Chicago

  • Madison Wiebe, 7, of Rolling Meadows cries out, "It's so cold!" Saturday as she fights her way through a windblown snowdrift on a sledding hill in Rolling Meadows. The wind took her inflatable sled so she had to fight through the snow drift to retrieve it.

      Madison Wiebe, 7, of Rolling Meadows cries out, "It's so cold!" Saturday as she fights her way through a windblown snowdrift on a sledding hill in Rolling Meadows. The wind took her inflatable sled so she had to fight through the snow drift to retrieve it. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Anton Blaser of Green Thumb Boots LLC shovels a drive as people dig out Saturday in Geneva. The Fox Valley area reported about 5 inches of snow by late Saturday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

      Anton Blaser of Green Thumb Boots LLC shovels a drive as people dig out Saturday in Geneva. The Fox Valley area reported about 5 inches of snow by late Saturday morning, according to the National Weather Service. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Geneva residents blow and shovel their way through Saturday's snow, which blanketed the Fox Valley area with about 5 inches by 11 a.m., according to the National Weather Service.

      Geneva residents blow and shovel their way through Saturday's snow, which blanketed the Fox Valley area with about 5 inches by 11 a.m., according to the National Weather Service. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Cars slowly approach Hamilton Street on Saturday morning in Geneva as the process of plowing out from a weekend storm begins.

      Cars slowly approach Hamilton Street on Saturday morning in Geneva as the process of plowing out from a weekend storm begins. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • A boy holds onto his sled as the cold wind blows the snow Saturday at Carpenter Park in Island Lake.

      A boy holds onto his sled as the cold wind blows the snow Saturday at Carpenter Park in Island Lake. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • A neighbor transports a snowblower in Lake Zurich, where the National Weather Service said 7.1 inches of snow had fallen by Saturday afternoon.

      A neighbor transports a snowblower in Lake Zurich, where the National Weather Service said 7.1 inches of snow had fallen by Saturday afternoon. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • A driver plows snow on the roads Saturday at Lakewood Forest Preserve in Wauconda. Lake County could be in for additional lake-effect snowfall Saturday evening into Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

      A driver plows snow on the roads Saturday at Lakewood Forest Preserve in Wauconda. Lake County could be in for additional lake-effect snowfall Saturday evening into Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Caitlyn Wiebe, 4, of Rolling Meadows takes a roll in a windblown snowdrift Saturday on a sledding hill in Rolling Meadows as she enjoyed the snow with her sisters, Jessica and Madison.

      Caitlyn Wiebe, 4, of Rolling Meadows takes a roll in a windblown snowdrift Saturday on a sledding hill in Rolling Meadows as she enjoyed the snow with her sisters, Jessica and Madison. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 1/19/2019 5:41 PM

Sled hills and nature areas were just as busy Saturday as snowplows and salt trucks, as suburbanites dug out from -- and then looked to enjoy -- a weekend winter storm.

With initial snow totals between 4 and 10 inches across the region by Saturday afternoon, mother nature gave plenty of fodder for winter fun in the form of fluffy powder strewed about the area.

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Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing at Morton Arboretum in Lisle gained popularity throughout the day, as did nature hiking and photography at Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe.

"We're seeing people come out to enjoy the new-fallen snow and get some exercise," said Darren Bochat, the Botanic Garden's senior director of visitor experience.

Sled hills across the suburbs, like the River Trails Park District's Woodland Trails hill in Mount Prospect, filled with thrill-seekers, as did larger slopes like Four Lakes Alpine Snowsports in Lisle.

But it wasn't all fun and games as the snow began to blanket the region overnight Friday into Saturday morning.

A plane slid off a runway at O'Hare International Airport about 11:30 a.m. Saturday, requiring the Chicago Fire Department's help evacuating passengers. No one was injured, aviation authorities said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Snow snarled travel at both of Chicago's airports Saturday, with O'Hare reporting peak delays of 86 minutes, along with 1,008 cancellations as of Saturday afternoon, and Midway travelers experiencing an average of 15-minute delays with 86 cancellations.

Metra reported some midday delays on the Union Pacific West and Union Pacific North lines, while Amtrak canceled seven trains that otherwise would have headed through Chicago to Boston, New York and Washington, D.C.

And the shoveling effort took time in places like McHenry, which received 10 inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service's Chicago office, as well as Waukegan, with 9.1 inches and Highwood, with 8.8. Libertyville recorded 8.5 inches from the storm, while Buffalo Grove and Gurnee each totaled 7.9 inches.

Further south, slightly less snow piled up, with 5.2 inches reported in Batavia and 6 inches in Downers Grove. Blowing snow was an issue in some locations, however, causing limited visibility and patches of snow-covered roads, National Weather Service Meteorologist Ricky Castro said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

With the weekend timing, people got the chance to enjoy the snow wherever they saw fit.

For some, that meant pounding pavement on a south Naperville trail cleared through an agreement between the Naperville Park District and a shoe store.

Naperville Running Company owner Kris Hartner said his company pays for plowing of a 2-mile stretch of trail that spans from a Route 59 east through two parks to Naperville/Plainfield Road. Every time it snows 2 inches or more, park district crews clear the path, and Hartner's store pays the bill.

"One of the challenges is when it snows like this, on the sidewalks, some areas are shoveled, some are not. The roads aren't great, so you've got to find the spots you can to run," Hartner said. "Simply clearing that path is a real nice stretch to run safely and comfortably."

Running roads at the Morton Arboretum were closed Saturday beyond the main visitor's center and education center because of the snow. The Children's Garden was closed, too. But Patti MacMillan, public relations specialist, said the Arboretum itself remained open offering an indoor miniature train event for little ones and rentals of cross-country skis and snowshoes for traipsing around in the fresh powder.

"It is really pretty, fresh snow -- great for those kinds of activities," MacMillan said.

The National Weather Service predicts lakeside areas of Lake and Cook counties could see additional lake-effect snowfall of between 2 and 6 inches from Saturday evening to Sunday morning. Meteorologist Castro said eastern and central portions of DuPage and McHenry counties also could see lake-effect snow accumulate another inch or two, but Kane County and areas further west likely will see only flurries.

Temperatures are expected to drop the lowest furthest to the west, with predictions between 3 and 9 degrees for overnight, Castro said.

Closer to the lake, it's still expected to become quite cold overnight Saturday into Sunday, with forecast highs for the entire region only in the high teens on Sunday. Wind chills could dip as low as 5 to 15 degrees below zero, but wind speeds and blowing snow are expected to diminish.

"The winds will be on the downward trend," Castro said. "They're not going to be light or calm winds, but they're not going to be nearly what they are today."

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