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Update: Chicago prepares for big weekend winter storm

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Schools closed, flights cancelled and hotels offer discounted rates in anticipation of severe weather

Division Street was plowed while most residential streets remained buried in snow Friday morning.
Sara Freund / Curbed Chicago

Officials expect the winter storm will drop more than a foot of snow by Sunday—which would be the most snow the city has seen in two years.

“Chicago is ready for this,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Streets and Sanitation began prepping for the winter in July, the CTA has winterized all rail cars and buses, and there are a number of resources for residents.

About 300 snow plow trucks began roaming the streets and scattering tons of salt at 2 p.m. on Thursday and will continue to work through the nights and weekend. See where they’ve been and where their headed (note: main roadways take priority here) with the city’s live snow plow tracker.

This particular storm is difficult because there isn’t a single snow dump. The city will get pummeled by bouts of 1 to 3 inches throughout the weekend. Since Thursday afternoon, 6 to 7 inches of snow has blanketed the city. The snow is expected to lighten up midday Friday but start falling again, primarily on the South Side in the afternoon.

Another snow system bringing 1 to 3 inches will pass through the city between 11 p.m. Friday until early Saturday morning. Then another round of snow will fall from Saturday night until Sunday morning.

Despite all that, trash will be picked up today and any recycling will be picked up tomorrow morning.

Chicago Public Schools and a number of other schools across Illinois were closed Friday. However, Chicago Public Schools are open and staffed incase kids do show up. More than 80 Chicago Public Libraries are scheduled to be open if you’re looking to get out of the house.

As of noon Friday, more than 1,178 flights were cancelled at both O’Hare and Midway. The best way to check the status of your flight is to call the airline itself.

Metra is doing the best it can and to stay up to date with your rail line, check Metra’s Twitter. As for the CTA, they’ve got snow plow blades, sleet scrapers, de-icing fluid and heaters on deck.

But here’s some good news to ease your travel woes.

If you happen to be stranded in the city, or just want to have an impromptu staycation, the Loews Hotel Chicago is offering a special rate of $89 per night to residents of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin from Thursday until Sunday. Normally rates for the hotel are between $139 and $239. All you have to do is use the code, “STAYWARM” at the time of booking.

And there are always warming centers available throughout the city if your in need of heat. A list of those locations can be found on the city’s website. There is one 24-hour facility open, Garfield Center located at 10 S. Kedzie Avenue. Call 311 to find libraries, park district centers or police stations where you can warm up over the weekend.