Snowfall in Midwest as winter finally hits region

CHICAGO – The winter that took its time getting to the Midwest began to finally arrive on the first day of the new year.

The National Weather Service said the snow started falling Saturday and that as much as 6 inches (15 centimeters) of snow could fall by Sunday morning.

In Michigan, forecasters said the heaviest snow was falling Saturday night, with as much as 6 inches (15 centimeters) expected along Interstate 94 in west Michigan and 3 to 5 inches (8 to 12 centimeters) anticipated in the southeastern part of the state. The northern end of Indiana is expected to see between 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) of snow by Sunday morning.

Chicago and surrounding suburbs are caught between a winter storm coming in from the southwest and a northeasterly wind coming off of Lake Michigan — a combination that could create as much as an inch of lake effect snow every hour.

“Winter has finally arrived,” weather service meteorologist Brett Borchardt told the Chicago Tribune. “We knew it was going to happen at some point.”

Transportation officials are warning motorists that the mix of rain and snow could make the roads slippery and reduce visibility and that they should be particularly careful when they cross bridges, which freeze first.

They also recommend that motorists should take it slow, increase the distance between vehicles and, before they get behind the wheel, make sure they have packed emergency supplies such as cellphones, food, washer fluid and ice scrapers.

“Hazardous travel conditions will develop this evening and continue into tonight,” the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids said. “A combination of snow, blowing and drifting snow and falling temperatures into the teens will create hazardous travel."