IDOT, ISP prepared for flooding, heavy snow, urge public to plan ahead
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Transportation is warning the public that a major storm with the potential for torrential rains, flash flooding, freezing rain, sleet and snow will impact travel tonight and this weekend throughout the state. Motorists should plan accordingly, anticipate conditions to change suddenly with roads becoming extremely slick, while allowing for much longer travel times.
“While IDOT is prepared for this unusual storm, driving will be hazardous this weekend. If it is not essential, please ask yourself if your trip can wait until conditions improve,” said Acting Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “If you must be on the roads, slow down, avoid distractions inside your vehicle and do not crowd our plows. In areas impacted by heavy rains, do not attempt to drive through flooded roads.”
The National Weather Service has issued a storm warning, predicting heavy rains this evening that will convert to freezing rain and sleet in west central Illinois and the Chicago area. Snow is expected to begin Saturday, with accumulations of 2 inches in the Peoria area, up to 5 inches in northwestern Illinois and up to 3 inches in the Chicago area. In southern Illinois, a wind advisory is in effect starting tonight through Saturday.
Visibility and slippery conditions will be a challenge the duration of the storm.
Flooding is a strong possibility throughout much of the state. Wet pavement in winter can freeze with little warning, creating treacherous driving conditions. Do not drive through standing water – turn around, don’t drown.
The department will have available more than 1,800 trucks and equipment statewide, applying salt, treating roads or responding to flooding situations. If you encounter a plow or any maintenance vehicle during your travels, please slow down, increase your driving distance and remain patient.
“Winter weather brings additional challenges and responsibilities for all motorists,” said Illinois State Police Director Brendan F. Kelly. “With the winter storm expected this weekend, the Illinois State Police would like to remind motorists who must travel to reduce their speed, limit distractions while driving and allow for extra travel time to help ensure their safety. Lastly, ISP would also like to remind all motorists to ‘Move Over-Slow Down’ for all emergency vehicles and any vehicles with flashing lights.”
Other tips if you must travel:
• Take it slow, especially when approaching intersections, ramps, bridges and shaded areas that are prone to icing.
• Make sure your gas tank is full.
• Keep a cell phone, warm clothes, blankets, food, water, a first-aid kit, washer fluid and an ice scraper in your vehicle.
• Check the forecast and make sure someone is aware of your route and schedule.
• Carry a cellphone and dial *999 in the Chicago area for roadway assistance in case of emergency.
• Reminder: Using handheld phones while driving is illegal in Illinois, unless it is an emergency situation.
• Always wear a seat belt, whether you’re sitting in the front seat or back seat. It’s the law.
For regular updates on statewide road conditions, visit www.gettingaroundillinois.com. You also can follow IDOT on Facebook and Twitter