Chicago pelted by snow, sleet

A winter weather advisory has been issued for today as the Chicago area is getting hit with sleet, freezing rain and snow from a storm that churned the southern Plains a day earlier.

The National Weather Service expects snow  to fall the heaviest between mid-day and early afternoon, though accumulations will vary in different parts the city.

"It does look like the early part of the rush hour will be most affected," said Mike Bardou, a Romeoville-based meteorologist for The National Weather Service.

The northern part of the city and the northwest suburbs could see 2 to 3 inches of snow by the evening rush hour, he said.

During a similar time frame, Chicago's South Side and southwest suburbs like Oak Lawn, Tinley Park and Joliet might only get 1 to 2 inches of snow, according to the agency. The far south suburbs could see less than an inch.

Snow will continue to fall, though at a lighter intensity, through the evening until early tomorrow morning, according to the agency, and temperatures are expected to hover right around freezing.

So far, the early mixture of rain, sleetr and snow has resulted in non-serious accidents on Interstate 90, I-94 and I-55, according to the Illinois State Police.

The threat of heavy weather has already prompted a large number of schools to cancel after-school activities, according to the Emergency Closing Center on, and many are even closing early.

The weather has also thrown a monkey wrench into scheduling of early-round games in the boys state basketball tournaments. Many games downstate have been postponed for a day and in the Chicago area, games at Chicago's St. Ignatius College Prep and at South Elgin High School have  been postponed as well.

The storm bore down on the southern Plains on Monday, dumping more than a foot of snow and creating blizzard conditions in Oklahoma, Texas and parts of Kansas still digging out from a winter storm last week.

Highways in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles and parts of Kansas were closed by the heavy and drifting snow that cut visibility and forced flight cancellations at airports across the region.

A man was killed Monday when his car slid off Interstate 70 in Sherman County, Kansas, near the western border, Governor Sam Brownback said. And in northern Oklahoma, one person died when the roof of a home partially collapsed in the city of Woodward, said Matt Lehenbauer, the city's emergency management director.

"We have roofs collapsing all over town," said Woodward Mayor Roscoe Hill Jr. "We really have a mess on our hands."

The storm was slowly moving out of Texas on Monday, while residents of Kansas City in turn were preparing for a foot or more of snow into Tuesday.

Tornado watches were in place Monday evening in parts of Mississippi and heavy rain was expected through the night in parts of Alabama and Georgia, according to the National Weather Service. The weather service Monday also issued flood watches for parts of the Carolinas and an ice storm warning for portions of West Virginia.

Some 17 inches of snow fell near Amarillo, Texas, according to the National Weather Service. Other areas in the Texas Panhandle reported more than a foot of snow and Texas Governor Rick Perry activated Texas military forces to be ready to respond to calls for assistance.

Amarillo could break the all-time record for the amount of snow in one day of just over 18 inches set in 1934, said Kristin Scotten of the National Weather Service.

Airports in Amarillo and in Lubbock, Texas, were closed and Interstate 27 between the cities was shut because of blowing snow, state officials said. Wind gusts of 75 miles per hour (121 km per hour) were clocked at the Amarillo airport.

Visibility was near zero on some roads around Amarillo, said Paul Braun, a Texas Department of Transportation spokesman.

"I am hearing that we have a lot of vehicles that are stalled in the main lanes of our roadways and they can't be seen because of the blowing snow," Braun said.

Texas State Trooper Gabriel Medrano said the snow was too deep to measure in Lubbock.

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