CHICAGO –The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) announced today that winter weather crews are continuing cleanup from Winter Storm Hercules, the New Year’s Day storm, with additional winter storm advisories coming for Saturday night and Sunday in Illinois.
Most Illinois primary routes currently are clear of snow and ice across the state, and IDOT winter weather crews now are clearing shoulders, turn lanes, ramps and intersections to help prepare for the next storm, which could begin with mixed winter precipitation and snow as early as Saturday afternoon or evening in some parts of the state. The additional snow will be followed by extremely low temperatures early next week, perhaps record lows.
“IDOT winter weather crews will be on the job overnight and throughout the weekend to clean up and prepare for the next anticipated storm,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider. “Due to high winds, blowing and drifting snow continues to be a challenge for drivers in many parts of the state, so we advise motorists to continue to take it slow, buckle up and avoid distractions. Above all, during periods of winter weather and cold temperatures – always consider whether the trip you’re about to make is really necessary, before you start out on the roads.”
The National Weather Service has forecasted blowing and drifting snow into Saturday morning with the possibility of record low temperatures and dangerous wind chills through next week. Currently, IDOT has 1,755 trucks assigned to snow duty across the state, and nearly 3,700 full- and part-time employees throughout the state are handling clean up. IDOT will continue to monitor the latest storm system as it moves into Illinois this weekend, and will assign full winter weather crews throughout the state as usual to help keep roads clear and passable.
Drivers are reminded to exercise caution when snow and ice affect roadways, and IDOT advises travel only when absolutely necessary during winter storms or when temperatures are extremely low. During the severely cold weather expected, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security 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.
Other 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 www.gettingaroundillinois.com and click on the “winter road conditions” icon.