CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today announced coordinated measures being taken by Illinois state agencies to prepare for heavy snow and rainfall, along with potential flooding and treacherous driving conditions in areas throughout the state. Today’s announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s commitment to keeping all Illinois residents safe this winter.
“As Illinois experiences another round of extreme weather, state of Illinois personnel and emergency crews are working around the clock to help keep people safe in these dangerous conditions,” Governor Quinn said. “I urge everyone to use caution and stay alert while outdoors and to only travel if absolutely necessary.”
National Weather Service forecasters predict the arrival of a strong cold front accompanied by strong winds with gusts over 50 mph, creating potential for whiteout conditions and debris on roadways. Flooding on pavements is also a concern with the combination of warm temperatures, melting snow, added rain, frozen surfaces and the anticipated temperature drop.
Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) crews are working to continually clear storm drains and are on standby to address the removal of snow and ice as needed from state routes to help ensure the safety of the motoring public.
Currently, all state routes are open. The Kampsville and Brussels Ferries remain closed due to ice on the river. IDOT will continue to monitor the weather statewide and respond accordingly. IDOT advises travelers to weigh the conditions carefully before venturing onto roadways during the storm.
“This unprecedented streak of winter weather continues to wreak havoc on Illinois, but travelers can be assured that IDOT crews will continue to work around the clock, as needed, to address flooding issues and to clear snow and ice,” IDOT Secretary Ann L. Schneider said. “We also ask that the public continue to heed our advice to stay off the roads if possible during storms, and to drive sensibly to help avoid crashes, which often are caused by driving too fast for conditions or following too closely. Our goal is to help everyone get to their destinations safely and work towards zero fatalities on Illinois roadways.”
The Illinois Tollway has cleared storm drains and is patrolling its 286-mile system to ensure crews can quickly respond if any flooding issues arise in low-lying areas.
“For their own safety, drivers should avoid traveling through standing water,” Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur said. “We urge our customers to travel cautiously and to dial *999 on a cellphone to report any flooding they may see on our roadways.”
The Illinois State Police (ISP) statewide will be monitoring road conditions and are advising motorists to use caution when driving. Depending on the weather conditions, motorists can expect ramp closures and re-routes. ISP will be working closely with IDOT and other agency partners to provide assistance to stranded motorists and updated information on any hazardous driving conditions. Motorists should expect delays and lengthy commutes.
The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is maintaining close contact with the National Weather Service and local emergency management agencies across the state to stay abreast of any flooding issues. If assistance to communities is needed, IEMA can quickly summon liaisons from more than a dozen state agencies to the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) to coordinate the deployment of state resources and personnel.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is collecting river stage and precipitation information, and reviewing river forecasts and precipitation forecasts issued by the National Weather Service in order to make informed situational reports to the IEMA. IDNR is providing field observations to IEMA to help assess the extent and severity of a flood emergency.
The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM) warns residents about the dangers of electrocution, carbon monoxide poison and gas leaks in flooded basements. With the flooding alert caused by the melted snow followed by heavy rain today, residents with basements or living in units below ground level should unplug any electric appliances and bring them above floor level. In addition, furnaces, water heaters and boilers should be inspected and monitored during the flood alert as a precaution to prevent the possibility of carbon monoxide leaks and gas leaks.
Electric shocks and electrocution are a common flood danger caused by contact with energized electrical equipment. The OSFM recommends people avoid entering a flooded area if the power has not been shut off. It also warns the public to stay away from downed power lines or other electrical equipment, especially if they are wet or standing in water.
The Governor also announced the State Incident Report Center (SIRC) is active today to coordinate the state’s response to floods and will be in communication with other state agencies including ISP, IDOT, IDNR, the Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS), the Illinois National Guard (ILNG) and the Red Cross.
Drivers are reminded to exercise caution when snow and ice or flooding affect roadways, and IDOT advises travel only when absolutely necessary during storms or when temperatures are extremely low. Due to current weather conditions, IDOT encourages motorists who must travel to check the latest winter road conditions and road closures at gettingaroundillinois.com.
During severely cold weather, the Illinois Department of Human Services advises that Illinois residents limit exposure to cold temperatures, dress in layers, check in on others who may need additional assistance, keep vehicles in good repair and bring pets indoors. For a list of warming centers in Illinois, visit KeepWarm.Illinois.gov.
Flooding-related driving tips:
- Do not drive through flooded areas.
- If a road covered by water seems shallow enough to cross, do not attempt to do so.
- If your car stalls, do not attempt to push it out; seek higher ground.
Safety tips to remember:
- Allow extra time for travel during the winter months.
- Don’t crowd the plow – a snow plow operator’s field of vision is restricted. You may see them, but they may not see you.
- Be aware that black ice can form on roads that appear clear and the unseen ice can be treacherous. Take it slow when approaching intersections, off-ramps, bridges and shady areas – all are prone to black ice, which is often invisible.
- Always keep your gas tank at least two-thirds full to help prevent the vehicle’s fuel line from freezing.
- Do not travel during bad weather unless absolutely necessary – if you do have to make a trip, check the forecast and make sure someone is aware of your travel route and schedule.
- Always carry an emergency car care kit that contains jumper cables, flares or reflectors, windshield washer fluid, a small ice scraper, traction material, blankets, non-perishable food and a first aid kit.
- Carry a few extra blankets in your car, and perhaps an extra coat to ensure protection in case of a breakdown.
- Carry a cell phone and dial *999 for roadway assistance in case of emergency (but remember using handheld phones while driving is illegal if it is not an emergency situation).
- Always wear a seat belt, front seat or back – it’s the law.
- Check travel and road conditions routinely before any trip. You can get road condition information by calling 1-800-452-IDOT (4368), Illinois Tollway information by calling 1-800-TOLL-FYI or online at gettingaroundillinois.com and click on the “winter road conditions” icon.