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Snowfall totals in Chicago miss breaking almost 60-year-old record by narrow margin

Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas, Chicago Tribune on

Published in News & Features

CHICAGO -- The last time it snowed this much in Chicago so late in the season, John F. Kennedy was president.

O'Hare International Airport's official snow measurement for Sunday came in at 5.3 inches, which made it the second snowiest day on record so late in the season.

The snowiest day on record so late in the season was set on April 16, 1961, at 5.4 inches. That means the total snowfall Sunday missed breaking the record by 1/10th of an inch.

Meteorologist Casey Sullivan, with the National Weather Service, said forecasters expected the snow to melt on contact with the ground but so much snow fell in such a short period of time, that didn't happen.

"It was always expected to be a strong storm but the uncertainty was how much would accumulate on the warm ground and the warm pavement," Sullivan said. "In general, I don't think we were expecting 2-3 inch (per hour) snowfall rates."

Monday morning, the conditions still were causing travel troubles.

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The Chicago Transit Authority reported a disruption in service on the Blue Line between O'Hare and Cumberland because a car slipped onto the tracks near Rosemont about 5:45 a.m. The vehicle has since been removed, but trains were only operating between Harlem and Forest Park as of 7 a.m. The CTA said busses would be available to provide connecting service between Harlem and O'Hare.

A traffic crash involving 11 vehicles led to a shutdown of I-290 west at the Jane Byrne interchange, WGN reported, attributing the crash to slick road conditions. Illinois State Police Sgt. Jacqueline Cepeda said no injuries were reported in the crash and it remains under investigation.

While more than 1,000 flights were cancelled at O'Hare on Sunday, the Chicago Department of Aviation was reporting far fewer delayed and cancelled flights Monday morning.

As of 7:45 a.m., 68 departing flights had been cancelled at O'Hare and 77 departing flights had been delayed. At Midway Airport, 2 departures were cancelled and 25 departures were delayed, according to the department's website.

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