ST. LOUIS– Portions of Illinois spent Friday digging out after a winter storm dumped more than a half-foot of snow in some areas while caking others with a mix of sleet and freezing rain. All of it snarled air traffic and forced school cancellations.
The National Weather Service said the west-central Illinois town of Rushville was among the hardest hit, with 7.5 inches of snow. Things in the slow-paced rural town, known for few things other than being the hometown of Miss Illinois 2012 Megan Ervin, became glacial.
“It came pretty quick. Within two or three minutes, the road was covered,” Rushville City Clerk Stacey Briney said Friday. Schools remained closed there a day after being shuttered early.
After a drought-plagued 2012, she said, “we definitely needed the moisture, that’s for sure. It was nice to see, but it was kinda hard to get around.”
Other portions of Illinois didn’t fare much better.
Much of the state’s midsection got 4 to 6 inches, including the capital city of Springfield.
The St. Louis suburbs east of the Mississippi River received roughly a half-foot of snow, while the southern portion of the state got what National Weather Service meteorologist Greg Meffert labeled “a potpourri of precipitation” that included bouts of snow, sleet and freezing rain.
The Chicago area got roughly 3 inches, with the heaviest snowfall in northern Illinois – 5 inches – reported around Woodstock.
Many schools in the state were closed Friday, and the storm’s aftermath continued crimping air travel.
More than 300 flights in and out of Chicago’s two airports were canceled Friday morning, the city’s aviation department said.
But the winter ground cover won’t stick around for long. Temperatures are expected to rise by Sunday into the mid- to upper 30s in central Illinois and into the 50s farther south, forecasters said.