Snowfall and powerful winds plague C-U

Heavy snowfall and cold winds powdered the campus and the Champaign-Urbana area late Monday through Tuesday.

Light snowfall began late Monday afternoon around 4 p.m. and is still falling. Jim Angel, state climatologist, said the expected total amount of snowfall for Tuesday was 2- to 4- inches, and by Tuesday morning there was already over four inches of snow.

Willard Airport reported 24 mile per hour winds Tuesday afternoon. West winds at 17- to 23- miles per hour are expected for the night, he said.

Winds are predicted to increase overnight some gusting as high as 35 mph, Angel said.

He said town residents will not be quite as affected by the wind as people in open country. Wind speeds are higher in the open fields, he said.

The snowfall is expected to end soon, although wind will continue to cause drifting snow.

“The blowing and drifting snow seems to be the main threat,” , said National Weather Service meteorologist Casey Sullivan.

The current wind chill is minus 11 degrees, and the high and low is 10 degrees.

Interim Chancellor and Provost Robert A. Easter sent out an advisory to staff members urging them to leave campus as early as possible.

The weather will have a harsh impact on travel, creating poor driving conditions.

“Travel on the interstate will be challenging tonight,” Angel said. “It’s going to be slick and hard to see.”

Easter stated that employees who ask to leave early should use vacation or personal days, and if they have not accumulated any vacation/personal leave, departments may approve an absence without pay for these employees.

The hazardous weather prompted the Champaign-Urbana public health district to close at 4 p.m. Tuesday, with a note to residents to call ahead to check for hours of operation Wednesday.

A number of schools in Champaign and Urbana also closed Tuesday.

The City of Champaign Public Works staff is asking the public to take steps in their daily routines to speed the city’s street clearing efforts.

The staff asks that people do not park on city streets if possible, and if it is necessary to park on the street, to avoid parking on primary routes. These include arterial streets, collector streets, bus routes, and school and hospital routes.

Crews will continue to focus on plowing and limited salting of primary routes before focusing on secondary routes, dead ends, and cul-de-sacs.

The public works staff is also asking the public not to plow/blow snow into the streets to prevent the need for snowplows to go over some streets twice. Residents are also asked not to blow snow onto medians.

The staff also asked residents to avoid driving whenever possible, and if it is necessary to drive, to use caution and be watchful of snowplows, also to allow for extra travel time.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.