UPDATE: Winter Storm to Hit During Evening Commute
Between 2 and 7 inches of snow and high wind gusts are predicted in McHenry County for Thursday.
Tonight's commute could be problematic for many as Winter Storm Draco bears down on the area.
The Chicago Tribune reports the heaviest snow will fall between 3 and 9 p.m. Thursday with wind gusts reaching as high as 50 to 60 mph.
McHenry County could see between 3 and 7 inches of with one to two inches expected to fall per hour at the height of the storm, according to the National Weather Service.
"The combination of the heavy snowfall rates and very strong winds will result in greatly reduced visibilities and possible blizzard conditions," according to the NWS. "Travel wil become very dangerous if not impossible as it may become difficult to keep up with snow removal."
With the hopes of keeping roads as clear as possible, the Illinois Tollway will dispatch its entire fleet of 182 snowplows Thursday, according to an Illinois Tollway news release.
“We urge everyone to stay off the roads this afternoon and evening, if possible, but if you must drive, slow down and allow plenty of extra time for the commute home," said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur in a news release
ComEd is also prepping for a storm that could produce widespread power outages.
“This winter storm is expected to be especially damaging to our system as we face a potential combination of wind, snow and ice,” said Terence Donnelly, executive vice president and chief operating officer, ComEd. “We have increased staffing levels and proactively requested assistance from other utilities to ensure we are ready to quickly and safely begin power restoration efforts.”
At O'Hare and Midway Airport, dozens of flights have been cancelled Thursday, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The above information was updated at 12:30 p.m.
A winter storm warning has been issued for McHenry County from 3 p.m. on Thursday through midnight, according to the National Weather Service.
Rain is expected to turn to wet snow Thursday afternoon and will continue Thursday night. Snow accumulation will be between 2 to 6 inches. Thundersnow is also predicted for the area, according to the NWS.
In addition, winds will increase to 25 to 40 mph Thursday afternoon and continue to incresae into the night with gusts between 45 and 55 mph in DeKalb and McHenry counties and gusts around 60 mph in LaSalle County.
The combination of snow and very strong winds will result in greatly reduced visibilities and the possibility of near blizzard conditions. Falling temperatures will cause roads to become snow-covered and travel treacherous.
Strong winds may also result in minor damage and sporadic power outages, according to the NWS.
The above information was updated at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 19.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for Thursday morning through Thursday evening for McHenry County.
The powerful winter storm is expected to move into the Chicago area Thursday morning. Rain Wednesday night is expected to change to snow from west to east Thursday morning and the snow is expected to continue into the afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.
Snowfall totals could reach six inches or more locally, according to the NWS. Also, very windy conditions are expected to develop late Thursday morning and continue through Thursday evening with gusts as high as 45 mph.
The strong winds combined with the falling snow may produce near white out conditions.
"Anyone with travel plans during this time period should be prepared for possible dangerous winter conditions as well as significantly increased travel times," according to the NWS.