LIVE: Blizzard warning, 'travel is not recommended'

LIVE: Blizzard warning, 'travel is not recommended'

9:17 p.m.

While the bilzzard  warning expired at 9 p.m. Wedneday, a winter weather advisory remains in effect until 3 a.m. Thursday, according to the National Weather Service in Lincoln.

The winter weather advisory is for snow and blowing snow. The snow is expected to taber off overnight. Brief visability reductions are possible.


Affected areas are Champaign, Coles, Cumberland, Douglas, Edgar and Vermilion counties.

8:20 p.m.

State police report that Illinois 47 is once again open between Mahomet and Fisher.

8:10 p.m.

State Troopers and tow companies have reached the scene of the four semis and multiple vehicles stuck in the highway and in the ditches on Illinois 47 at the curves between Mahomet and Fisher in Champaign County.


The lanes are still blocked in both directions, and traffic is being diverted in Mahomet and on
U.S. 136.


There is a long line of stalled traffic in the southbound lanes just north of the incident.


The Illinois Department of Transportation is on scene to help with snow removal.

7:40 p.m.

Kris Koester, administrative services supervisor for Champaign Public Works, said many in-town
locations are seeing plows move into the secondary streets this evening.

Due to blowing snow, additional resources have been deployed to outlying areas.

Public Works staff in Champaign reported for duty at 3 a.m. Wednesday. A second crew arrived at 11:15 a.m. and another crew will take over at 11:15 p.m.

Champaign public works personnel will continue around-the-clock operations until the snow and ice control plan process has been completed.

6:35 p.m.

After Mahomet street crews complete their final pass through the village, the street crews will return to work at 3:30 a.m. Thursday.

6:20 p.m.

Ameren Illinois reports the largest concentration of remaining outages is in the Champaign-Danville area.
 

6:15 p.m.

Ameren Illinois reports their field and contract crews have restored 123,600 customer outages resulting from a severe winter storm that impacted most of the company's service territory on Wednesday. 

As of 5 p.m. the total outage count was down to approximately 14,000 customers.

Additional restoration crews from Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan and Kansas have been helping Ameren Illinois crews to repair in excess of 180 leaning or broken poles and 560 downed wires.
 

6:05 p.m.

In the Piper City area, U.S. 24 through Ford County is currently impassable according to the state police.

6 p.m.

State police report that U.S. 52 in Iroquois County is currently impassable due to snow.

5:55 p.m.

The Kirby Avenue overpass at Interstate 57 in Champaign is temporarily closed due to a crash.

5:42 p.m.

State Trooper Tracy Lillard said that troopers in District 10 have responded to 229 incidents between midnight and 5:30 p.m.
District 10 Troopers were assisted by Illinois Conservation Police, Secretary of State Police, Illinois Commerce Commission Police, State Police Investigations, and ISP SWAT, ISP Traffic Crash Reconstruction Troopers and county and city officers.  
The number of incidents included crashes, vehicles in the ditch, stranded motorists and calls for service.


Lillard said roads in District 10 are still snow/ice covered in many areas.

Drivers are advised to use caution if they choose to drive this evening.

5:15 p.m.

Street crews in the village of Mahomet will continue to work before stopping for a dinner break at about 5:30 p.m.

The crews will check the streets one more time before stopping for the evening between 7:30 and 9 p.m.

Illinois 47 continues to be closed between Mahomet and U.S. 136.

Village crews were last in the Briarcliff and Thornewood areas of Mahomet at about 3 p.m. The crews will not be returning to those areas until Illinois 47 reopens.

Mahomet crews will be checking alleys but will not necessarily be plowing them at this time due to the softness of the ground.

 

4:15 p.m.

"We are assessing the damage and deploying the personnel and supplies necessary to begin the job of service restoration," said Ron Pate, senior vice president of operations for Ameren Illinois. "Our first priority will be to correct potentially life-threatening situations. We will work closely with hospitals, police and fire departments and local emergency officials to update lists of critical facilities that are without power. We then implement power restoration plans focused on restoring power for the greatest number of customers in the shortest length of time."

4:00 p.m.

Ameren reports 247 customers in Urbana are currently without power. 437 customers in Fairmount curently have no electricity, Ameren says. 527 customers in Monticello currently have no power, Ameren says. And 413 customers in Bement remain without power.

3:55 p.m.

Sen. Dick Durbin just issued a statement urging all residents "to be safe and remain cautious as severe weather sweeps through central and eastern Illinois."

3:35 p.m.

The state police have closed Illinois 47 in Champaign County from U.S. 136 (near Fisher) to  Mahomet.

Several semis and cars are stranded north of Mahomet on Illinois 47 and cannot be moved at this time.

3:30 p.m.

County officials report travel is impossible in some rural locations due to the wind and snow.

County highway department  crews will be available to accompany emergency vehicles if necessary.

If you find yourself stuck in a rural area, you should remain within your vehicle. Run the engine for about 10 minutes every hour to stay warm. Make sure the exhaust pipe of your vehicle is clear of snow.
 

3:15 p.m.

Rick Atterberry of the Champaign County Emergency Management Agency said travel is not advised on county highways this afternoon and evening.

He said that vehicles that are stuck in the snow are impeding snow removal operations in the county, resulting in several snow plows getting stuck.

He advises motorists not to try to drive on county roads outside the cities this afternoon and evening.

Atterbery said Champaign County Highway Department plows will be pulled from the county highways at 6 p.m. until conditions improve.

 

From state police, 3:05 p.m

I-72 westbound at milepost 179.5 is open. I-57 southbound at milepost 192 is open.

There are multiple crashes on I-72 westbound between Champaign and Piatt counties with lane blockages but traffic can get by on the right shoulder. There is a large amount of ice and snow on I-72 westbound.

Several drivers have been taken to area hospitals.

 
From state police, 2:48 p.m.:
 
Troopers are on scene of multiple semis stuck in the road on Illinois 47 between U.S. 136 and Champaign County Road 2600 North with white-out conditions.  The road is expected to be blocked for several hours.
 
From Champaign County Highway maintenance supervisor Tracy Wingler, 2:40 p.m.
 
Wingler urges anyone away from home who needs to get home to do so in daylight.
 
“If they can, get home now. If not, stay put,” he said about 2:30 p.m. .
 
“It’s getting hectic .. and it’s getting bad. We’re getting quite a bit of traffic. If people would just stay off the road, we’d be fine. We are running into cars stuck in the middle of the road,” he said.
 
Visibility is already poor in outlying areas with the high winds and Wingler predicts it’s only going to get worse when darkness falls.

Wingler has had a full crew with eight pieces of heavy equipment out since 5 a.m. and said they “will be with it until it’s cleaned up.”

“Right now, our east-west roads are worse. We’ve got a bit of heavy drifting on the east-west roads.”
 
From state police, 2:15 p.m.:
 
Troopers are on the scene of a semi crash on I-57 SB blocking all lanes southbound at milepost 192, two miles north of the Charleston/Mattoon exit.
 
From Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative, 1:49 p.m.
 
As of 1:15 p.m. on Wednesday, February 24, Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative currently has 3,312 accounts without electricity due to the high winds and blizzard-like conditions throughout east central Illinois. The majority of the outages are due to four of our substations being down. Those substations are Jamesburg, Sidney, Longview, and Westridge. They mainly impact the areas south and east of Champaign and include parts of Champaign, Vermilion, and Douglas counties.
 
Our crews are out and working on restoration. They are working as efficiently and safely as the adverse weather allows. We don’t expect to have an estimated restoration time for all of the outages until well after the storm passes through and we’ve had a chance to fully assess our electric system. Besides the substations being down, we are experience conductor galloping on many of our east/west oriented lines due to the very high winds and wet, heavy snow. Basically that means that the lines are heavier so they are sagging a bit, then the high winds blow them around. If they come in contact with each other, it could create an outage situation.
 
From state police, 1:19 p.m.:
 
I-74 westbound blocked at milepost 163 — between Farmer City and Mansfield — with jack-knifed semi.  Expected to be closed for an hour.
 
From Champaign County Emergency Management Agency, 12:34 p.m.
 
Continuing snowfall and strong winds are creating near whiteout conditions on area highways.  State police have responded to dozens of incidents on Interstates 55, 72 and 74.
 
Travel is not advised outside of the cities.
 
In the cities, wind driven snow is sticking to some stoplights making them nearly impossible to see.  Approach every intersection very cautiously.
 
If you do find yourself stuck in a rural area REMAIN WITH YOUR VEHICLE and run the engine for about 10 minutes every hour to stay warm after making sure the exhaust pipe is clear of snow.
 
Be aware of later statements on road conditions and please observe any reported road closures.  Be aware that emergency responders may be tied up for some time with multiple calls.  Do not call 911 except in an emergency.  State highway road condition reports are available at www.gettingaroundillinois.com
 
AMEREN OUTAGES
 
The utility says more than 6,300 are without power across a swath of East Central Illinois from about Interstate 74 south.
 
State police update 12:26 p.m.
 
White out conditions on I-74 between Champaign and Danville. 
 
Troopers at the scene of a jack-knifed semi on I-74 EB at MP 205 (just west of Oakwood) the passing lane is blocked. 
 
They are headed to a crash on I-74 with injuries on I-74 in the median at MP 190 (between the Illinois 49 and Oakwood exits). 
 
Traffic still blocked on I-72 at MP 179 due to two jack-knife semis.
 
Emergency travel only.  Troopers still on the scene of dozens of incidents, some of which haven’t been checked yet.  Anticipate delays because traffic is not moving in some locations.
 
State police update 12:02 p.m.
 
Troopers are headed to a crash with injuries on I-57 at milepost 211.  (This is about a mile south of the Tuscola exit) Use caution.
 
State police update 11:37 a.m.
 
Troopers are on the scene of a jack-knifed semi with double trailer across all lanes westbound on I-72 at milepost 179.5 (about halfway between I-57 and Illinois 47 exits).  Traffic is completely blocked.  Reports of another jack-knifed semi to the west of this location, but we are unable to confirm yet.
 
State police update 11:10 a.m.:
 
I-57 between 184 and 177 is back open.
 
I-72 has 2-3 foot snow drifts in the Macon and Piatt County area. 
 
I-72 and I-74 continue to be an issue.  Motorists are still crashing and sliding into the ditch. 
 
I-57 crash at milepost 181 with injuries.
 
We are suggesting Emergency Travel Only.
 
District 10 Troopers are being assisted by Conservation Police, Secretary of State Police, Illinois Commerce Commission Police, State Police Investigations, and Traffic Crash Reconstruction Troopers as well as County and City Officers. 
 
Motorists may be stranded in stalled traffic or in the ditch for hours. If they choose to travel, be prepared with a survival kit and a full tank of fuel. 
 
Multiple vehicles still traveling without headlights.
 
10:11 a.m.
While tonight's UI women's basketball game remains on (7 p.m. vs. Michigan State at State Farm Center), the men's basketball booster club called off its luncheon in Champaign. Also, many high school basketball games have been called off and rescheduled for Thursday. Click here for the rundown.
 
Champaign County update (10:02 a.m.):
 
Snow has started in earnest and is forecast to continue through the evening and into the overnight hours. 6 to 10 inches can be expected with the possibility of isolated higher amounts.  In addition, winds will gust to around 45mph at times resulting in possible whiteout conditions and blowing and drifting snow, especially in rural areas.
 
Visibility may be greatly reduced today so it is suggested that travel be curtailed.  If you must travel, make sure someone knows where you are going, the route you will take and your expected arrival time.  Make certain mobile phones are fully charged and that you have your winter survival kit in your car.  Start your trip with a full tank of gas.
 
If you do find yourself stuck in a rural area REMAIN WITH YOUR VEHICLE and run the engine for about 10 minutes every hour to stay warm after making sure the exhaust pipe is clear of snow.
 
Be aware of later statements on road conditions and please observe any reported road closures.  Be aware that emergency responders may be tied up for some time with multiple calls.  Do not call 911 except in an emergency.  State highway road condition reports are available at www.gettingaroundillinois.com
 
From Illinois State Police, 9:33 a.m.
 
Troopers are on the scene of multiple jack-knifed semis on I-72 and I-74 blocking east and westbound traffic in multiple areas.  Traffic is stopped on the interstate in several locations.  Emergency travel only.  Road conditions and weather are making travel extremely dangerous.
 
From Illinois State Police:
 
Troopers are on the scene of multiple crashes and vehicles in the ditch.
 
There are others reported, but yet to be checked.  Incidents are all over I-72,  I-74, and I-57  across multiple counties.
 
I-72 milepost 163, 171, 155, 133    Macon, Piatt, Champaign
 
I-74 milepost 210, 165, 211.5, 167   Piatt, Champaign, Vermilion
 
I-57 milepost 184 Coles (Power lines confirmed down near I-57, but not in the lanes of traffic)
 
East-West roads seem to be worse and conditions are quickly deteriorating.
 
Travel is not recommended due to white-out conditions, heavy snowfall and extremely high winds.
 

From Illinois State Police:

Troopers are on the scene of crashes on I-72 which is covered in ice and snow.  Travel speeds are at 15-20 MPH or less.  Use caution when approaching stopped emergency vehicles.  Don’t crowd snow plows.  The interstate in Macon County and Piatt County is extremely dangerous.

Power lines are down across all lanes of I-57 south of MP 184 in Coles County.  This is confirmed and traffic is being diverted southbound at MP 184 and northbound and MP 177 (Neoga).  Avoid this area

From MARY SCHENK:

MANSFIELD - Illinois State Police report a tractor truck hauling a semi-trailer has slid into the median on Interstate 74 eastbound.

The trailer is blocking the left lane of travel. The accident was reported by police about 7:20 a.m.

Shortly after 8 a.m., troopers reported that there are also several crashes on I-72 in both Piatt and Macon counties, I-57 and I-74. Travel speeds are at 15 to 20 mph or less. 

East-west roads seem to be worse, police say, and conditions are deteriorating quickly. Travel is not recommended due to white-out conditions, heavy snow and high winds. 

Police are begging those motorists who must be out to slow down and to get out of the way for snow plows and emergency vehicles.

From the National Weather Service

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN LINCOLN HAS ISSUED A BLIZZARD WARNING...WHICH IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 PM CST THIS EVENING. THE WINTER STORM WARNING IS NO LONGER IN EFFECT.
 
* TIMING...SNOW WILL CONTINUE ACROSS THE AREA THIS MORNING...OR WILL QUICKLY DEVELOP WHERE IT HAS NOT ALREADY DONE SO. THE SNOW WILL BEGIN TO TAPER OFF LATE THIS AFTERNOON OR EARLY THIS EVENING.
 
* WINDS/VISIBILITY...NORTH TO NORTHEAST WINDS OF 25 TO 35   MPH...WITH GUSTS TO 45 OR 50 MPH WILL COMBINE WITH THE SNOW TO PRODUCE NEAR WHITEOUT CONDITIONS AT TIMES. THE WINDS WILL ALSO CAUSE TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES FOR HIGH PROFILE VEHICLES...ESPECIALLY ON WEST TO EAST ORIENTED ROADWAYS.
 
* SNOW ACCUMULATIONS...6 TO 9 INCHES OF SNOW ARE EXPECTED ACROSS THE AREA WITH LOCALLY HIGHER AMOUNTS POSSIBLE.
 
* MAIN IMPACT...WIND DRIVEN WET SNOW WILL PRODUCE NEAR WHITEOUT CONDTIONS AT TIMES. TRAVEL WILL BECOME EXTREMELY HAZARDOUS AND SHOULD BE AVOIDED IF POSSIBLE.
 
* OTHER IMPACTS...THE HEAVY SNOW WILL ALSO PRODUCE SNOW COVERED ROADS. CAUTION SHOULD BE EXERCISED WHEN SHOVELING WET HEAVY SNOW.
 
PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...A BLIZZARD WARNING MEANS SEVERE WINTER WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED OR OCCURRING. FALLING AND BLOWING SNOW WITH STRONG WINDS AND POOR VISIBILITIES ARE LIKELY. THIS WILL LEAD TO WHITEOUT CONDITIONS...MAKING TRAVEL EXTREMELY DANGEROUS. DO NOT TRAVEL. IF YOU MUST TRAVEL...HAVE A WINTER SURVIVAL KIT WITH YOU. IF YOU GET STRANDED...STAY WITH YOUR VEHICLE.
 

End to trend?

After a whopper of a winter in 2013-14 and a less-threatening 2014-15, most area school districts went into today not having taken a single snow, or Act of God, day this school year.

"That may change quickly," Rantoul Superintendent Scott Amerio said Tuesday.

 

District 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16
Arcola 2 0 0
Arthur-Lov/Atwood-Hmnd 7 5 0
Bement 4 8 0
Bismarck-Henning 8 3 0
Catlin* 9 4 0
Champaign 5 2 0
Danville 8 3 0
Fisher 7 3 0
Georgetown-Ridge Farm 10 2 0
Hoopeston Area 8 4 0
Jamaica* 8 4 0
Paxton-Buckley-Loda 7 4 1
Potomac 7 4 0
Rantoul city 6 3 0
Rantoul High 8 3 0
Rossville-Alvin 8 4 0
St. Joseph-Ogden 5 0 0
Urbana 6 2 0
Westville 10 2 0

*-Combined into the new Salt Fork district this year.

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