We'll keep you updated on weather-related news here
When will county roads be clear?
An official with the Champaign County Highway Department said if we don't get any more snow over the next couple of days, crews could possibly have the roads cleared by the weekend.
Maintenance Supervisor Tracy Wingler said the very low temperatures during the day and below zero temperatures at night are making it difficult for chemicals to melt the snow and ice. So he said it could be sometime on Saturday before the roads are in better shape.
Traffic will be temporarily reduced on Fourth Street while a water main is being repaired.
The northbound lane of Fourth Street will be closed at Springfield Avenue beginning at 5:15 p.m. Thursday due to a water main break at that intersection.
Northbound traffic will be re-routed to Third Street by way of Healey Street.
The lane will re-open once Illinois American Water has repaired the water main and the city has cleared the street of ice.
Wind chill advisories update
A wind chill advisory has been issued for East Central Illinois.
For Ford and Iroquois counties, it's in effect now until 11 a.m. Friday. For the rest of our area, the advisory starts at 9 p.m. Thursday and runs until 11 a.m. Friday.
Frostbite will be possible on exposed skin in only about 10 minutes, as wind chills are expected to dip to 15 to 25 below zero on Thursday night and into Friday morning. Hypothermia is also possible with extended time outdoors.
No surprise - February has seen below normal temps so far
If you've spent any time outside, you know February is off to a cold start in Champaign-Urbana and Illinois as a whole. And the numbers back that up.
State Climatologist Jim Angel said the average temperature in C-U so far this month is 20 degrees. That's nine degrees below normal. He says the statewide average temperature so far this month is also around nine degrees below normal.
And looking ahead, new data shows that the cold and snow will likely continue through February. That's according to the Climate Prediction Center branch of the National Weather Service. It's newest outlooks for Febraury show an increased chance of colder-than-average temperatures and higher-than-average precipitation in East Central Illinois.
Snow days racking up for local schools
The above average snowfall and bitter cold have reached a point where it could impact the length of the school year in public schools in Champaign, Urbana and elsewhere.
Due to hazardous weather conditions, Urbana district administrators cancelled classes for the sixth time on Wednesday. Five of those days don't need to be made up because school districts include those days in the scheduled-end of the school year.
But a spokesperson for Urbana schools, Lori Johnson, said the sixth day and any additional days of cancelled classes may have to be added onto the end of the school year. She said school superintendents can apply for a waiver from the State Board of Education to see if additional snow days need to be made up. She said Urbana Superintendent Don Owen is waiting to see how many more days schools will need to be closed this school year before he decides about applying for a waiver.
Meantime, Champaign Unit 4 spokesperson Stephanie Stuart said Champaign schools have used the five snow days built into their calendar.
A quick check of a couple of rural school districts shows that Tolono schools used their sixth day on Wednesday, while Oakwood cancelled classes Wednesday for the 10th time this school year.
Champaign activates snow removal rules, too
The city said property owners in the downtown and campustown areas have until noon Monday to clear their sidewalks or risk having them cleared at the owner's expense. If you have property on a corner, the ramps must also be cleared.
Fatal crash in Coles County
MATTOON — One person was killed and another injured in a collision on a slick highway in Coles County early Thursday.
Illinois State Police at Pesotum have not released the name of the person who died at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center following an accident about two miles north of Mattoon at 3:35 a.m.
Coles County Coroner Ed Schniers said the deceased is a woman from Mississippi and he's having difficulty finding relatives.
Police said a Honda Passport was northbound on Interstate 57 when its driver lost control on the icy road and the vehicle stalled in the driving lane facing east.
A northbound truck tractor pulling a trailer came along and struck the passenger side of the Honda.
The female passenger had to be cut out of the Honda and was pronounced dead at the hospital. The driver also had to be cut out and was taken to Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana. The driver’s name has also not been released.
The truck driver, Ramirez Francisco, 40, of Chicago, was not physically injured.
The crash remains under investigation.
Three-vehicle crash on I-74 near Mansfield
A Farmer City woman was injured in a three-vehicle accident on an icy stretch of I-74 just east of Mansfield Thursday morning.
State police said the crash happened about 6:40 a.m. in the eastbound lanes and caused a backup of traffic for at least a couple of hours.
A pickup truck and small car were stopped in the center median after having slid off the icy road.
An eastbound semitrailer tractor truck approaching the same spot also slid out of control on the icy road and spun counterclockwise into the median.
The semi overturned and the trailer landed on top of the pickup truck, trapping the pickup driver, Ellen A. Davis, 41, of Farmer City. She was cut out of the truck and taken to Carle Hospital in Urbana, where she was treated and released.
As the semi overturned, the trailer doors came open, spilling part of a load of empty glass bottles on to the rear end of the Honda Civic that was in the median.
The driver of the semi was Quentin Alexander Tillie, 27, of Oxford, Ala. He was not hurt but had to be cut out of the semi.
The driver of the Civic that had the bottles dumped on it was Kristen Carbaugh, 23, of Bloomington. She was not injured.
Single-vehicle crash near Ogden
About 9 a.m. Thursday, a Chevrolet Express van driven by Joshua Whitney, 30, of Danville, lost control on the ice on I-74 near Ogden as he headed west.
The van ran off the road and into the ditch, striking the median wires.
Whitney was taken to Carle Hospital in Urbana, where he was treated and released.
“Our highly-traveled roads are nothing but a glaze of ice,” said Champaign County Highway Department Maintenance Supervisor Tracy Wingler.
Those that are particularly dicey: the Monticello Road (County Highway 18), the Dewey-Fisher Road (North Mattis, north of The High School of Saint Thomas More, Highway 1) and Highway 15 from Route 130 to Homer.
“We’re using salt and calcium chloride and trying to salt highly-traveled roads with a lot of ice on them, then we’re going back on the not as highly-traveled ones,” Wingler said.
Due to the heavy winds on Wednesday, road crews didn’t start applying the salt and calcium chloride until today.
As Wednesday’s temperatures rose into the upper 20s, some snow on the roads started to melt. But overnight those melting snows froze — “that’s what’s causing problems today,” Wingler said.
The good news, he said, is the salt and calcium chloride seems to be working.
“It’s just taking some time,” he said.
The problem is salt supplies are dwindling. Wingler estimated he’s down to about 150 tons. An order’s been placed, but he’s not sure if it’ll be delivered tomorrow or in April.
Salt suppliers, he was told, are running into problems moving the salt up the Illinois River on barges.
“Plus, everybody in the state of Illinois is using salt.”
This season the county has used close to 2,600 to 2,700 tons. Last year it was about 1,000 tons, he said.
Phone outage persists in Paxton
State Police are urging drivers to use extreme caution while traveling on Thursday, as a majority of the accidents involve black ice.
Trooper Tracy Lillard said state police have handled more than 65 incidents, including 13 crashes and more than 50 disabled vehicles in ditches and medians. Lillard said there are scattered ice spots on I-57, I-72 and I-74, and all two lane roads are ice covered all across East Central Illinois.
So make sure to give yourself extra time to reach your destination, slow down and don't assume the road is clear. If you're stranded, you're encouraged to remain in your vehicle due extremely cold temperatures and dangerous wind chills.
'Failed' meter? Go ahead and park
Some Champaign parking meters downtown and on campus may read "fail" over the next few days. The city says that's because the workers who normally collect money from them are assigned to other duties related to snow removal. "Failed" meters won't be enforced while the city completes its snow removal operations, according to Kris Koester, administrative services supervisor and spokesman for the city's public works department.
Here's the latest from meteorologist Greg Soulje:
THIS AFTERNOON…Very cold. Mostly sunny. High 7 above. Northwest to west wind 7 to 14 mph.
TONIGHT...Bitter cold. Fair. Lows 8 to 12 below. West wind 5 to 10 mph.
TOMORROW…Very cold. Partly cloudy. High 13. Southwest wind 6 to 12 mph.
TOMORROW NIGHT…Increasing clouds. Low 2 above; slowly rising temperatures late..
SATURDAY…Cloudy. Some light snow. High 22. Chance of snow 50%.
More from Soulje can be found here. More on the forecast and current conditions can be found here.
Closings & cancellations
A list of closings and cancellations can be found here. If you have a closing or cancellation to report, please call 217-351-5300. School closings require a code word.
Urbana snow removal rules in effect
The city of Urbana has put its snow and ice removal requirement in place for sidewalks in certain parts of town. Property owners in the downtown, University of Illinois and South Philo Road snow removal districts have until 9:30 Friday morning to clear sidewalks. Otherwise the city will clear them and charge the property owner.
The city also urges property owners outside of the snow removal districts to voluntarily clear sidewalks. And city officials remind you that plowing snow from private property onto public streets and sidewalks is prohibited, and fines could be imposed as a result.
Drive with caution
The state's transportation department road-condition map shows all highways in East Central Illinois still have patches of ice and snow. Check out the map here.