Mar 5, 2013 / 7:52 am
Mother Nature apparently saved the best, or at least the biggest, for last.
Chicago was hit Tuesday by a storm expected to dump as much as 10 inches of snow in the area before the end of the day -- the most since the 2011 blizzard and its more than 20 inches of snow.
"This will be the biggest widespread storm of the winter," National Weather Service meteorologist Amy Seeley said. The forecast was for 8 to 10 inches throughout northeastern Illinois and northwest Indiana, a far cry from last March, which saw less than a half-inch of snow and was the warmest one on record in Illinois.
Airlines cancelled nearly 1,000 flights at Chicago airports as the storm rolled in Tuesday morning, while officials throughout the region warned of slippery roads. In western Wisconsin, a semi-trailer slid off a snow-covered interstate and into a river. State Patrol Sgt. Dave Fish said a dive-and-rescue team had been called to search the Red Cedar River near Menomonie for the driver.
Hardware stores in and around Chicago have been doing a brisk business, selling salt and snow shovels at a time when many usually turn their thoughts toward gardening and baseball.
"Everybody's got a little comment with every bag they're buying," said Mike McIntosh, who works at Dressel's Hardware in Oak Park just outside Chicago. Workers had started to stock the shelves with tools and supplies associated with spring and summer, only to find the shovels and salt they thought they'd hold for another year were still in demand.
"Everybody's a bit surprised, but it's good for us, we've got a lot of this stuff to move," McIntosh said Monday.
The system moved across the Dakotas and Minnesota on Monday, dropping up to a foot of snow in some areas and freezing rain in others. Tens of thousands of Minnesota students got a day off from school Tuesday as the snow continued to make travel difficult.
The National Weather Service predicted a two-day snow total of 8 to 12 inches for eastern Minnesota, including the Twin Cities, where the snow was expected to taper off by the afternoon as the storm moved east.
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