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All-day snow made travel hard in places

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Updated: April 7, 2013 6:13AM

A late-winter snowstorm worthy of the name slammed into the Fox Valley on Tuesday, forcing school and other closings and making travel treacherous.

The storm made winter blasts in each of the previous two weeks look like just tune-ups, with up to 10 inches expected across parts of the area before a predicted ending around midnight.

A dusting that began just after daybreak Tuesday preceded heavy snow that struck the Elgin area shortly after 8 a.m. and continued into the afternoon, demonstrating that local superintendents apparently made the right call in cancelling classes. Those include schools in Elgin District U46, Carpentersville-based District 300, Burlington-based District 301, Huntley District 158 and St. Charles District 303.

All Elgin Community College classes and events were canceled as of 11 a.m., and the college closed down completely at 11:30 a.m. Judson University in Elgin and Rockford also cancelled classes at noon Tuesday.

Other places that closed early or cancelled events included local libraries, some businesses, and The Centre of Elgin and the Elgin YMCA recreational facilities.

The National Weather Service had predicted that the storm would make the afternoon’s commute a “nightmare,” and those who were stuck in it would have to agree. The only saving part was that with so many schools and other places closed, there was far less traffic than normal during the rush.

The snow in some areas fell as quickly as 1 to 2 inches per hour during the day, making for tough plowing and dangerous travel conditions, particularly on secondary roads. The weather service said wind gusts were expected to reach 30 miles per hour at times.

The amount of traffic and number of crashes were “lighter than an average snowstorm” in Elgin, according to Police Cmdr. Glenn Theriault. “It really seems that people heeded the warnings and stayed off the roads.”

Theriault added that many people misunderstand Elgin’s snow route ordinance.

“Many people think it’s okay to resume parking along a snow route after one plow has cleared the curb lane,” he said. “But the ordinance says no parking until 24 hours after the snow has stopped falling. That’s because plows go by more than once, each time getting closer to the curb.”

Setting a record for lack of understanding, Theriault said, one slow-learning driver a few years ago had his car towed three times in the same storm.

The predicted snow amount Tuesday was likely to surpass the 5.4 inches accumulated at O’Hare International Airport on Feb. 26 and Feb. 27, the weather service said.

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