Heavy snow forces ground stop at O'Hare, snarls air traffic

A winter storm that swept across northern Illinois forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights Friday at Chicago’s two major airports and prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to halt operations at O’Hare International Airport late Friday

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The FAA attributed the ground stop due to the snow and ice that moved into the Chicago-area Friday afternoon. The National Weather Service is forecasting the snow will continue in the area into the evening, when a gradual transition to a mix of freezing rain and sleet will set in. The ground stop was lifted around 9:45 p.m.

At 9 p.m., the Chicago Department of Aviation was reporting nearly 690 flights had been canceled at O’Hare, with 169 flights cancelled at Midway International Airport. Delays at O’Hare were averaging 28 minutes and 15 minutes at Midway.

A winter weather advisory was issued for the Chicago area to last into early Saturday, with the snow expected to give way to sleet and ice though the overnight hours. The weather service forecasts the area could see 2 to 5 inches of snow from Friday night into Saturday morning.

"If there is travel you don’t need to make, consider postponing it,’’ said meteorologist Ricky Castro.

Chicago’s Department of Streets and Sanitation deployed close to 290 trucks to push aside the snow and salt the streets, said spokeswoman Marjani Williams, who added the department is prepared to redeploy its resources depending on changes in the weather.