Heavy snowfall makes for messy afternoon commute in suburbs
More than 500 flights were canceled at Chicago's two international airports and Illinois State Police urged drivers to stay off roads Thursday evening after as much as 4 inches of windblown snow led to whiteout conditions and multiple pileups.
More than 380 flights were canceled at O'Hare International Airport and more than 140 at Midway Airport, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Snow fell at a rate of 1-2 inches per hour and was blown by winds gusting as high as 40 mph, the National Weather Service said.
Parts of southern DuPage County as well as northern Will County could have up to 4 inches of snow in the end, while other parts of DuPage, northern Cook County and most of Kane County were expected to see as much as 3 inches.
Less than an inch of snow was anticipated in Lake and McHenry counties.
Further south, forecasters said blizzard-like conditions could develop with the storm system dropping snow at a rate of more than 2 inches per hour. Some east-central Illinois counties could have as much as 10 inches in the end.
The Illinois Department of Transportation closed Interstate 39 north of Bloomington Thursday afternoon after state police said a pileup several hundred yards long involved approximately 100 vehicles.
I-74 eastbound near Champaign was completely blocked for a while after a crash involving several semitrailers, police said.
• The Associated Press contributed to this report.