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Early November snow freezes commutes, delays trains, cancels more than 800 flights

Snow this early on makes getting around the city a bit more difficult

A silver commuter trains on the tracks as a worker clears snow.
Metra trains in the snow.

A blast of unseasonably cold and snowy winter-like weather has made navigating Chicago extremely hazardous this morning.

The snow was unexpected as the city had street sweepers scheduled up until late Sunday night when it was clear salt spreader trucks and snow plows would be required. About 200 salt trucks were deployed early Sunday.

Chicago’s major expressways were covered or partially covered with ice and snow this morning, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation and gusting winds dropped visibility to a half-mile in some areas—causing delays on a day in which traffic is lighter due to the Veterans Day holiday.

The CTA reported that both the Brown and Orange lines were being rerouted through downtown and Brown Line trains traveling towards Kimball are operating only as far as Western—with buses being used for shuttle service. But the agency said it was construction—not weather-related—as work expected to be completed over the weekend has been extended.

Meanwhile, the Red Line and Blue Line has suffered significant delays this morning because of mechanical issues. It’s rare that the CTA will cite weather for delays, and for the most part runs smoothly under extreme weather.

By midday, 838 flights had been canceled at O’Hare Airport and 93 at Midway with delays reaching 110 minutes, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation. One arriving flight landing at O’Hare even slid off the runway around 8 a.m. due to the icy conditions.

The National Weather Service has also issued a flood warning through Tuesday afternoon for the Lake Michigan shoreline, which means the Lakefront Trail will be and icy, wet mess. The strong winds could build waves 8 to 14 feet which isn’t helping with the city’s erosion issues.

The trip home will likely be as sloshy and cold as this morning. A winter weather advisory is in effect until 2 p.m. and snow could keep falling until 9 p.m., said the weather service. The estimated 2 to 6 inches of snow and low temperatures are below average for November.