Illinois prepares for heavy snowfall, opens warming stations

The snow came late to Illinois this season, but it arrived in abundance, with some areas waking up to almost six inches of snow Tuesday morning. The delayed snowfall has given Illinois state officials time to prepare warming centers and resources for road safety.

Governor Pat Quinn issued a press release stating his orders to keep all state agencies on high alert to help battle the severe weather. Following Quinn’s direction, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) readied over 1,768 trucks and 3,700 employees in anticipation of the predicted snowfall from Monday to Tuesday.

IDOT will remove snow and ice from state routes over the coming days. Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Erica Borggren encourages drivers to practice caution while on the road.

“While our top priority always is to make sure our roadways are safe as possible, we also ask the motoring public to pay close attention to the changing conditions,” Borggren said in a press release.

She added that motorists should not travel during storms or extreme cold unless absolutely necessary. If travel is necessary, drivers should reduce speeds and plan for extra travel time.

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    Illinois State Police Director Hiram Grau and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) echoed Borggren’s warning.

    “Reducing speed, avoiding distractions and paying attention to emergency vehicles—especially when roads and interstates are icy and visibility is reduced—will make driving conditions safer,” Grau stated.

    In addition to IDOT’s preparations, the Illinois Tollway opened its Snow Operations Center and assembled 185 snowplows and over 200 staff supervisors per shift to manage anticipated snowfall across the 286-mile highway system.

    The Illinois Tollway will also continue to provide real-time travel times and road conditions through the Traffic and Incident Management System (TIMS). TIMS information is available on over-the-road electronic signs within the Tollway on its website.

    The extreme cold, forecasted as low as minus 12, through Thursday spurred Quinn to open more than 100 warming centers throughout the state to provide warmth and shelter to residents.

    The warming centers are located at Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) offices throughout the state. Warming centers are open to the public Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Champaign county residents can use the DHS Family Community Resource Center, located at 705 North Country Fair Drive in Champaign for warmth and shelter. Other locations can be found at www.keepwarm.illinois.gov or by calling the IDHS hotline at (800) 843-6154.

    In addition to efforts at the state level, local departments are making efforts to keep residents safe from the weather.

    In a City of Champaign news release, Ernesto Salinas, Champaign Public Works operations manager, stated the city will be following its Snow and Ice Control Plan with crews being deployed Monday night and working continuously until roads are safe and cleared.

    Champaign residents are encouraged to visit the city website for information on snow removal and updated travel and safety information.

    Abigale can be reached at [email protected].