The first blizzard of the season came early and strong in the Chicago area Sunday night. More than a foot of snow fell in northeastern Illinois with winds blowing at 50 mph, causing whiteout conditions. Power outages are widespread, and travel disruptions continue Monday morning as the city begins to clean up.
More than 1,700 flights were canceled into or out of Chicago’s O’Hare international and Midway airports as of Monday morning, FlightAware reported. Thousands of flight delays continue to trickle through the U.S. airport network as holiday passengers try to get home. The Sunday after Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel days of the year, according to AAA.
Commonwealth Edison, which serves Illinois, was reporting that 100,000 customers in Cook County alone were without power Monday morning.
As much as 13 inches of snow fell on the Chicagoland area from Sunday to Monday morning. McHenry County, northwest of Chicago, posted the highest totals. O’Hare airport reported 7.4 inches, and Midway Airport received 3.4 inches, according to the National Weather Service.
24-hour snow totals in Cook County
Schaumburg, 9.2 inches
Harwood Heights, 6.9 inches
Palatine, 6 inches
Park Ridge, 5.9 inches
Lincolnwood, 4.5 inches
Midway, 3.4 inches
Totals were lower downtown, but roads were affected significantly, with ice and snow “mostly covering” the major thoroughfares of Interstate 55, I-90/I-94 and I-290. Several portions of the Dan Ryan and Kennedy expressways were closed Monday morning.
The early winter storm was in the forecast but it came in stronger than expected. Blizzard warnings were posted for Chicago late afternoon Sunday. Snowfall rates of one to two inches were predicted, but peaked at two to four inches in the pre-dawn hours Monday. The combination of heavy snow and wind speeds over 50 mph led to whiteout conditions across a swath of Illinois from north of Chicago through Peoria. At O’Hare, visibility was less than three-quarters of a mile for 11 hours from 7 p.m. Sunday through 6 a.m. Monday.
With an official snow total of 7.4 inches at O’Hare, the storm was the fifth-worst to hit Chicago in November, according to the National Weather Service. The largest November storm on record came in 1895, when 12 inches fell on Nov. 25-26.
The storm set records farther south, too. Kansas City posted 5.8 inches of snow, making Sunday the second-snowiest November day in the city. It was the first time Kansas City got more than three inches of snow in more than 1,754 days, according to the National Weather Service. In Topeka, it was the first November blizzard on record.
Top snow totals by state
Wisconsin — 11.8 inches near Lake Geneva
Illinois — 13.8 inches in Moline
Iowa — 17 inches in Oskaloosa
Kansas — 14 inches in Morrowville
Missouri — 8.8 inches in St. Joseph
Nebraska — 10 inches in Nebraska City
Oklahoma — 1.5 inches in Woodward