Snow ‘gift’ for some, pain for others
For many, Friday’s snow was a hassle: longer commutes, buried driveways, confounded travel plans.
For Vicky Downs, it was an opportunity.
“When you’re getting fresh snow like this, it’s a gift,” said Downs of the Winnebago Sno-Gliders Snowmobile Club, whose members saw the storm as a chance to pursue a winter pastime. “It’s an exciting moment.”
And Friday’s snowfall gave her a lot of opportunities. By 6 p.m., 5.2 inches had fallen at Chicago Rockford International Airport, according to the National Weather Service.
It makes this December the seventh-snowiest in Rockford, tying the mark set in 1951.
The city has been hit with 18.4 inches so far this month, easily overtaking the 10.8 inches that falls on Rockford in a typical December, said Tim Halbach, National Weather Service meteorologist said.
Friday’s snow pushed December 1969 off the top 10 list — that month logged a paltry 16 inches — but it will have to be an exceptionally brutal weekend for this December to beat the all-time mark: 30 inches in December 2000.
While Downs and her fellow Sno-Gliders were delighted with the snowfall, for most residents, the sloppy, wet accumulation seemed more like a punishment — a frosty mess that sent cars careening into ditches and required constant shoveling.
Other snow-weary residents packed grocery and video stores, eager to stock up on food and entertainment, staples before a long weekend indoors. Some said they were trying to make the best of the precipitation, pausing to admire the beauty of the snow as it clung to tree branches and painted front yards a lustrous white.
“It’s part of winter life,” said Anthony Haynie, who was scraping snow from the sidewalks outside some downtown businesses early in the afternoon. “We all have to deal with it. If it keeps snowing, it’s all going to come back.”
It kept snowing.
The fast-moving storm, born in the Southwest, made its way to Rockford about 7:30 a.m., and the worst of it was gone by 4 p.m., although snow showers hit parts of the region through the night.
A fleet of 26 city trucks and plows dumped salt on major thoroughfares, Public Works Director Tim Hanson said. Contractor Rabine Paving, meanwhile, canvassed the city’s residential streets. Together, crews cleared 563 miles of road and dumped between 900 and 1,200 tons of salt, Hanson said.
“We planned ahead,” Hanson said at 3 p.m., “We’re doing very well.”
No airport delays
Flights at Chicago Rockford International Airport were on schedule despite the snowfall.
Airport operations and facilities manager Matt Zinke said work crews kept the primary runway, taxi run and terminal port open and relatively clear. One runway was closed.
“We don’t have UPS running tonight, so we are able to keep one runway down and put our efforts toward the passenger traffic,” Zinke said. “It’s nice to have that option when we need it.”
20 inches not unusual
Just under 20 inches is not an unusual amount of snow for December, Halbach said, but it’s more than Rockford has seen recently. This year’s low temperatures are partially responsible for the amount of snowfall Rockford’s received.
“Temperatures have been cold enough that when we do get precipitation, it’s mainly snow or ice,” Halbach said.
Mel Zeller, a rural South Beloit resident, said he welcomes the snow because of the beauty it brings to his country home, which was draped in white Friday. The pines around his property, he said, are a particularly lovely sight in winter.
“When they’re weighed down with snow, they are very pretty,” Zeller said. “It’s just like a picture, with all the white.”