Fox News reports from Rockford on ice storm
12:17 p.m.: Did anyone see Fox News?
Got a call from a reader/newshound telling us that Fox News had Chicago-based reporter Jeff Goldblatt reporting from Rockford for the ice storm.
So we made the national news.
Fox News did not alert its Fox affiliate here, WQRF-39, that it was coming.
11:47 a.m.: Weather makes work 'a little dangerous' for postal worker
Register Star reporter Sadie Gurman interviewed Rock River Valley residents this morning on how they're adapting to today's winter weather. View a sample of her interviews in this video.
10:59 a.m.: Ice storm doesn't spare southern Wisconsin
A frosty mix of sleet and snow-iced roads today in Wisconsin, causing dangerous travel conditions and closing many schools.
Numerous spinouts were reported in southern Wisconsin counties as drivers attempted to navigate slick roads during their morning commute.
“We’re just hoping everybody stays home if they can,” Waukesha County Sheriff’s Capt. Karen Ruff said.
Jessica Crosby, a service adviser at Crosby Auto Repair in Elkhorn, said it had tow drivers out helping some stuck commuters.
“And clients coming here to drop off their cars said they had seen a lot of vehicles on the side of the road that went into ditches,” she said. “It’s pretty messy out there. But this is the season for that in Wisconsin.”
Milwaukee Public Schools, the state’s largest district, canceled classes for its 85,000 students as already icy conditions deteriorated. Some school bus drivers couldn’t make it to their buses, MPS spokeswoman Roseann St. Aubin said.
“We knew things would only get worse,” St. Aubin said. “We thought about our kids on foot.”
Other school districts that called off classes included Janesville, Milton, Waukesha, Jefferson, Fort Atkinson, Watertown, Racine, Kenosha, Elkhorn, East Troy and Random Lake.
Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, the state’s largest, remained open but many flights were delayed or canceled, spokesman Ryan McAdams said.
The National Weather Service issued an ice storm warning covering Milwaukee and the area south to Monroe. It also issued a winter storm warning for the area stretching north of Milwaukee to Sheboygan and west to Lone Rock.
The freezing rain was expected to become a mix of sleet and snow before the storm moved east Tuesday night, the weather service said. Up to 5 inches of snow was expected farther north and west along a line from Port Washington to Madison to Dubuque, Iowa.
The state’s warnings were part of a weather pattern that spread from the frozen Plains and had much of the nation’s midsection in an icy grip.
Waves of frozen rain left at least 18 dead in Oklahoma and Missouri, with 15 of them killed on slick highways.
10:48 a.m.: Get hour-by-hour updates
Need hour-by-hour forecast updates? Check out this link to Rockford's AccuWeather forecast.
10:28 a.m.: Weather cancels hundreds of flights, closes dozens of schools
Freezing rain is leaving up to a quarter-inch of ice on portions of northern Illinois, canceling hundreds of flights and forcing dozens of schools to close.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Andrew Krein says the northern part of the state is receiving most of the ice accumulations from the storm that moved up from the Plains.
At O’Hare International Airport, about 250 flights were canceled between Monday night and this morning and 25 more were canceled across town at Midway.
About 17,000 Ameren customers are without power in western Illinois and another 600 ComEd customers are in the dark in northern Illinois.
The back-to-back ice storms are leaving some hardware stores across the state with massive shortages of salt.
9:08 a.m.: Cancellation news begins filtering in
The Winnebago County business offices and the 17th Judicial Circuit Court offices will be closed today because of the inclement weather.
The Boone County offices also are closed today.
Third Presbyterian Church of Rockford is closed today because of the weather.
Also, the RATS Mobility Subcommittee meeting for today has been canceled because of the weather. It will reconvene next week at a time to be set. Its next scheduled meeting is Jan. 8.
For information on cancellations and closings, stay with rrstar.com.
We’ll update the calendar today with canceled and rescheduled events, and we are linked to WREX-13’s closings listings.
8:08 a.m.: Rockford has scattered power outages
Unlike many Midwestern cities suffering major power outages after early morning ice storms, Rockford is experiencing only scattered outages, ComEd spokesman Paul Callighan said.
The outages are individualized and not in any particular area of the city, he said.
ComEd crews and engineers mobilized about 5:30 a.m. for “special storm work,” in which manpower is deployed to downed power lines and extra attention is paid to outages that could be caused by ice.
“We have not had any serious problems developing so far,” Callighan said.
But ice can break power lines, and Callighan advised that residents stay away from downed lines and notify ComEd.
Call 1-800-334-7661 if you experience an outage throughout the day, he said. Don’t assume that crews are aware of your outage.
7:23 a.m.: Caution: Roads are getting slippery
Just what we expected: The roads are starting to get slick, meaning you need to go slow. And as expected, traffic is light this morning.
According to the Illinois Department of Transportation:
U.S. 20 in Stephenson County is covered in snow or ice; in Winnebago County, it’s patchy.
Interstate 90 is clear from the state line down into Chicago.
Interstate 39 is patchy south of Rockford, in Ogle, Lee and LaSalle counties.
The map we used can be found here.
7:15 a.m.: Remember this number, Web site for road conditions
The Illinois Department of Transportation reminds drivers of ways to stay safe on state roads this winter.
Think before you drive: Skip unnecessary car trips.
Don’t crowd the plow: Snowplow driver’s field of vision is restricted.
Beware black ice: Roads might be more slippery than they appear. Slow when nearing intersections, off-ramps, bridges and shady areas, which are prone to black ice.
Fill up: Keep your gas tank at least two-thirds full to prevent fuel-line freezing.
Bundle up: Dress in layers in case of weather emergencies.
Buddy up: Discuss your travel plans with someone before you go.
Be prepared: Keep an emergency car-care kit with jumper cables, flares, windshield washer fluid, ice scraper, traction material, blankets, nonperishable food and first aid kit.
Phone a friend: Don’t forget your cell phone.
Buckle up: Always wear your seat belt.
You can always check travel conditions before driving on interstates by calling 800-452-4368 or going on the Web to gettingaroundillinois.com.
7:12 a.m.: What to have in case of an emergency
It’s never too late to be prepared in case of an emergency. You might have much of the following in your home and can gather it in one place:
Recommended items for a basic emergency supply kit:
* Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation.
* Food, at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food for each person.
* Battery-operated or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
* Flashlight and extra batteries
* First-aid kit
* Whistle to signal for help
* Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
* Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
* Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
* Can opener and canned food
* Local maps
Road travel is discouraged during storm situations. But if you must travel, make sure your vehicle’s fuel tank is full.
Keep at least a half-tank of gas in your car at all times. If you have just a quarter-tank of gas and get stranded along the highway, or stuck in traffic for a while, you’ll quickly be on empty.
Recommended items for a vehicle emergency kit:
* Windshield scraper and small broom
* Battery-powered radio
* Extra batteries
* Snack food
* Extra hats, socks and mittens
* First-aid kit with pocket knife
* Necessary medications
* Tow chain or rope
* Road salt and sand
* Booster cables
* Emergency flares
*?Fluorescent distress flag
6:33 a.m.: Ice storm has just begun
This morning, your windshield could be full of water ... or little ice pellets.
Roads weren’t slick as of 6 this morning, but it could get worse at any minute.
With temperatures hovering around freezing and an ice storm warning in effect until midnight, most school districts in the Rock River Valley have canceled classes.
Freezing rain totals of one-tenth of an inch have been reported in northwest and north-central Illinois. Accumulation is expected to range from a quarter- to a half-inch.
This afternoon, as warmer air moves in, freezing rain is expected to transition to rain.
An ice storm warning means severe winter weather conditions are expected. Travel is strongly discouraged. If you must go out, pack a flashlight, food and water in case of emergency.
Power lines also could snap from falling trees, so you might have to rely on nonperishable food. And remember to maintain proper ventilation for portable heaters.
Rockford Register Star