First winter weather packs less punch than expected


After a mild start to the winter season in December, Mother Nature finally brought the white stuff into the region for a visit, first with a lighter snowfall after the New Year, and then a bit more Monday night into Tuesday morning this week.

While the snowfall in the region was not as heavy as forecast models predicted, the storm did bring about an inch of wet heavy snow followed by rainfall. The storm left roadways slick in the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday, with the Illinois State Police reporting dangerous road conditions in western Illinois with wet roads and some icing locally.

The storm was enough to keep local school districts on their toes.

In Wilmington, students were sent home on Monday with their Chromebooks in anticipation of a potential e-learning day on Tuesday, but the district was able to keep those students in class when the heavier snow stayed away.

The Reed-Custer School District enacted their remote learning plan for Tuesday, allowing students to log in from home for the day.

Both districts opted to use remote learning rather than traditional snow days again this year, when possible. Students are sent home with their technology in order to participate in e-learning, which allows the districts to complete the school day without the need to add an emergency day to the calendar at the end of the academic year.

Coal City School District Unit 1 utilizes traditional snow days, but was able to keep school in session on Tuesday when the storm showered down less snow than predicted.

Meanwhile, local roads were reported to be clear by the morning commute, thanks to local municipal public works crews, as well as state and county officials salting and plowing.

Wilmington, Coal City and Braidwood all prohibit street parking when snow accumulates to the depth of two inches or more, until that snow is removed.

Residents are also asked to clear the way around fire hydrants located on residential lots while shoveling so that local fire protection districts can locate those hydrants quickly in case of an emergency.

While the snowfall early this week didn’t pan out as expected, there’s still plenty of winter left.

The National Weather Service (NWS) reported as of Tuesday afternoon that after a brief respite Wednesday, another round of light snow accumulations is expected Wednesday night which will likely lead to pockets of slick travel into Thursday morning.

Another strong storm system may develop in the region Thursday night into Saturday, although the storm track remains uncertain.

The NWS reported potential for heavy snowfall and strong winds expected across the Great Lakes Region, particularly Friday and Friday night, with much colder temperatures expected next week, including wind chills near -20 degrees at times.

Local officials urged patience for residents when it comes to snow and freezing rain events.

“If there’s one crucial message to convey about heavy snowfall, it would be: Prioritize safety and patience,” said Wilmington’s Public Works Director James Gretencord. “Heavy snows mean long hours for our City Crew. Give plow drivers plenty of room when possible; this keeps them moving efficiently and effectively. Allow ample time for snow removal crews to clear roads, and exercise caution when traveling. Consider staying home if possible until conditions improve.”

During periods of cold and heavy snow, the NWS warns that folks should avoid going outdoors if possible. Anyone who must be outside when the temperatures drop should cover exposed skin and dress in layers, including three layers on your torso and two on your legs. Waterproof boots, a hat, gloves or mittens, and a face mask are also recommended.