STERLING – Cars slid into ditches, businesses sent employees home and schools dismissed early as a windy winter snowstorm blew into the Sauk Valley Tuesday afternoon – and kept on blowing.
Whiteside County had received about 4 to 6 inches of snow as of 7 p.m., said Tom Olsen, hydro-meteorological technician with National Weather Service in the Quad Cities.
Ashton, the only town in Lee County with available snowfall measures, got 4 inches, said Charles Mott, meteorologist with National Weather Service in Chicago.
More snow is headed this way again today.
Area police departments reported no major accidents, but many slide-offs.
“The roads are extremely snowpacked and hazardous,” Lee County Sheriff John Varga said.
His department fielded at least 15 calls about vehicles that careened into ditches from 1 p.m. to 4:15, he said.
Schools’ early dismissals were a good thing, he said. “It helps that we didn’t have a bunch of school buses on the roads.”
East-west streets were particularly snow covered because of the wind, Varga said. Lee State and county snowplows were out working, but ice under the heavy snow made it hard for them to do their jobs, he said.
A state plow was stuck in a ditch at state Route 26 and U.S. Route 30 just past the intersection, and another plow had to pull it out, Varga said.
“Give yourself enough time to slow down at intersections,” he said. “Be aware of other vehicles, including plows. Slow and steady wins the race at this point.”
The snow was caused by a slowly moving low pressure system heading northeast from the Ohio River Valley, Olsen said.
In winter, snow will fall mainly on the north and northwest side of low pressure centers, which is where the Sauk Valley was, Olsen said.
One to 2 more inches of snow is expected to fall today in the Sauk Valley. Highs, and lows, will remain in the low to mid-30s, punctuated by blustery winds of up to 25 mph.
There's a 50 percent chance of more snow tonight, although less than a half inch will accumulate.
Thursday will bring scattered flurries and a high near 34 degrees. Friday will be mostly cloudy with a high near 31, and the weekend foreast calls for mostly sunny skies with highs in the upper 20s and lows in the low teens.
Source: National Weather Service