SPRINGFIELD, IL (WEHT) – The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is warning the public the weather throughout the weekend will create hazardous conditions across the state and urging drivers to strongly consider postponing any unnecessary travel.
Throughout Illinois, periods of snow, rain and bitter cold should be anticipated, creating extremely slick conditions and poor visibility. “IDOT crews will be out on the roads but conditions could still be extremely hazardous, so we encourage motorists to ask themselves if they really need to make the trip,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “If you do have to travel, remember that the bitter cold and wind reduces the effectiveness of the materials we use to treat snow and ice. There will be lengthy travel times so make sure to prepare your vehicle in the event you are stranded.”
The National Weather Service forecast includes a strong storm system with a wide range of weather New Year’s Day through New Year’s night. Rain and several inches of snow are expected across Illinois, and a transition zone will include a wintry mix with minor ice accumulations possible. This will be most prevalent between Interstate 80 and I-70 on January 1.
Gusty north winds on the afternoon of January 1 will create blowing and drifting snow on east-west roads, and the system may trigger strong to severe storms south of I-64 this evening through January 1. Damaging winds and a few tornadoes will be possible. Heavy rainfall Friday night through Saturday could produce minor flooding of roads in low lying and poor drainage areas. The coldest air of the season will occur with wind chills falling between zero to -20F west of the I-55 corridor the morning of January 2, and north of I-72 corridor Monday morning, which will cause roads to freeze.
Statewide, IDOT has more than 1,800 trucks and equipment to treat roads and respond to weather emergencies. If drivers encounter a plow or any maintenance vehicle during their travels, please slow down, increase their driving distance and remain patient. If travel must happen:
- Take it slow, especially when approaching intersections, ramps, bridges and shaded areas that are prone to icing.
- Make sure the gas tank is full.
- Keep a cell phone, warm clothes, blankets, food, water, a first-aid kit, washer fluid and an ice scraper in the vehicle.
- Check the forecast and drviers must make sure someone is aware of their route and schedule.
- Carry a cellphone and dial *999 in the Chicago area for assistance in case of emergency.
- Reminder: Using handheld phones while driving is illegal in Illinois, unless it is an emergency situation.
- If a driver or a passenger is involved in a crash or break down, remain inside the vehicle, which is the safest form of shelter. Exiting the vehicle into live traffic can have fatal consequences.
- Always wear a seat belt, whether sitting in the front seat or back seat. It’s the law.
- For regular updates on statewide road conditions, visit this website. IDOT also has a Facebook and Twitter.