ROCKFORD — As much as a foot of snow is expected to have blanketed much of Winnebago County by early Monday.
A winter storm warning issued Sunday by the National Weather Service remains in effect until 6 a.m. Monday for Winnebago, Boone, McHenry, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb and Kane counties.
Late Sunday morning, sleet turned to snow as the temperature dropped below freezing.
By 2 p.m., area police agencies were responding to numerous reports of vehicles sliding off roadways and into ditches, trees and each other.
Police and tow trucks also responded to two jackknifed semi trucks in the area of U.S. 20 and Interstate 39.
By 6 p.m., 7 inches of snow had fallen in Rockford, said National Weather Service meteorologist Ricky Castro. "There's a heavy snow band from Central Illinois to Winnebago County, and it's just sitting there. You guys could get up to a foot before it moves to the east.
Castro called the storm a "pretty extreme event" for the month of November.
"It's already shattered the record for snowfall for Nov. 25, which was 3.3 inches in 1977."
The normal snowfall for the entire month is 1.7 inches.
Outside of school children hoping for a day off from school, private snowplow operators throughout the region were delighted with the snow. Jerry Lane-Barry, 35, a contractor with Rockford Plastering, sat in his pick up at the McDonalds/Circle K gas station at East State and Seventh Street while his partner, John Snyder, filled the vehicle.
"I'm really happy to see the snow because I'm out of work right now," he said. "So this is my job.
"We just did (the parking lot) at Trinity Day Care. We'll probably be out until 3 o'clock in the morning. We figured we might as well stay out while the money is good."
Employees of the Rockford's Public Works Department began salting and plowing arterial routes at 2:30 p.m.
Motorists are urged to follow at a safe distance behind snowplows to prevent the spray of salt from hitting your vehicle. The added distance also allows a snowplow driver room to back up if needed.
Sunday afternoon, Rockford was placed under a citywide snow emergency meaning its odd/even parking ordinance is in effect.
At 8 a.m. Monday, vehicles are to be parked on the even numbered side of the street. Vehicles parked in violation of the ordinance will be ticketed.
The village of Machesney Park also declared a snow emergency.
During this time, no vehicles may park on any road, highway, roadway shoulder, ditch or any other property used, or which could be used, as a roadway within the village until such road or highway has been completely cleared of snow.
Anyone found to be in violation of the ordinance could receive a fine of $25 to $100. The vehicle in violation also can be towed and stored at the owner's expense.
Sunday's high of 34 degrees was expected to give way to an overnight low of 22 degrees with wind gusts as strong as 45 mph causing at times whiteout conditions.
The Illinois Tollway announced its full fleet of 196 snowplows had been deployed and that its Snow Operations Center is open to manage the agency’s systemwide response.
"We’re asking drivers to help us in keep them safe by remembering to slow down during severe weather and be prepared for reduced visibility and changing pavement conditions," said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Liz Gorman. "We also are reminding drivers that if they become stranded they should stay in their vehicles and call for assistance."
The Illinois Department of Transportation also issued a weather alert aimed at motorists returning from their Thanksgiving Day destinations.
"Please take all necessary precautions, including altering travel plans to leave early or asking yourself if your trip can wait,"said Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. "The IDOT snow-and-ice teams will be prepared, but the public should expect worsening driving conditions Sunday with travel becoming dangerous late in the day."
Chris Green: 815-987-1241; firstname.lastname@example.org; @chrisfgreen