Cities urge caution as winter storm moves through area
Local public works officials say Champaign-Urbana's busiest streets should be fairly clear of ice early Saturday, but drivers will still need to use caution as the snow could continue to fall through part of the morning.
On Friday evening, forecasters were expecting anywhere from 3 to 7 inches of snow to fall Friday night into Saturday morning. Urbana Public Works Operations Manager John Collins said there's a chance the city could be on the higher end of that scale.
That would be enough to trigger emergency snow routes and mandatory sidewalk shoveling requirements in sections of both cities.
Here is the National Weather Service's Central Illinois website, with lots of information for the area.
The good news is that temperatures were expected to remain in the 20s and no one was forecasting any problematic winds. That means that road salt should be effective, and plow crews were not expected to have any problems with blowing and drifting snow.
Collins said primary and secondary routes should be pretty clear by morning, "with an emphasis on 'should.'" Residential streets could have snow left.
Urbana plow crews were scheduled to be on around the clock until noon Sunday. Champaign has crews scheduled until just before midnight Saturday and are prepared to call more people in for Sunday should they need to do that.
Champaign Public Works spokesman Kris Koester said crews there were expecting a wet snow and their salt brine — a salt-solution mixture — should be effective keeping roads clear.
Both cities are asking residents to avoid driving if possible, use extra caution around snow plows, leave early and allow extra time to reach your destination.
Cities likely will decide after the snow stops on Saturday if they need to put sidewalk-shoveling rules into effect. If they did, Champaign property owners in the downtown and Campustown areas would have 48 hours to clear their sidewalks. Urbana property owners in the downtown, campus and South Philo Road business district would have 24 hours to remove the snow.
Those declarations would be disseminated on the cities' websites and through local media.