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Chicago Recovering From Latest Bout Of Snow

POSTED: 12:07 pm CST February 7, 2008
UPDATED: 12:55 pm CST February 7, 2008

Armies of snow plows took to the streets in Chicago and across the state, schools reopened and airports tried to return to normal Thursday, a day after an icy winter storm had cars spinning, children sitting at home and planes grounded.

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The storm played a role in a myriad of minor traffic collisions and problems on the roadways and likely was a factor in the death of a 44-year-old man, who died after his truck ran off a Pekin road into an overflowing creek.

Officials said Scott Hollis' truck hit a guard rail and flipped over before falling into the creek. The vehicle was upside down in the water and rescuers worked unsuccessfully to pull him to safety.

At Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, lines were long Thursday morning, after the storm caused the cancellation of about 1,000 flights Wednesday. About 100 people spent the night at the airport on cots and on Thursday morning, 80 flights were canceled, according to Karen Pride, spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Aviation.

No delays were reported across town at Midway International Airport.

"Things are much improved from yesterday morning," Pride said.

In Chicago, Matt Smith of the city's streets and sanitation department, said nearly 300 trucks that had been plowing the main streets into Wednesday night were able to switch to the city's side streets overnight and clear those as well.

Many schools that were closed Wednesday had reopened Thursday, though several, particularly those close to the Illinois-Wisconsin border where a foot of snow or more fell, remained closed.

Various schools' Web sites announced the closures so that roads could be cleared thoroughly and said they expected to reopen Friday.

Shopping centers, including Gurnee Mills mall, which closed early Wednesday because of the weather, were open for business again Thursday morning.

The weather forecast for the next couple of days may allow residents to continue to dig out without having to deal with another major storm system in the near future.

The National Weather Service was calling for flurries in the northern part of the state Thursday afternoon and then some light snow in the evening, but meteorologist Andy Avalos said less than an inch was expected in most locations. Another system was expected for Friday night, but it will likely drop only 1 to 3 inches of snow.

Temperatures dropped overnight and black ice formed on local expressways Thursday, including Interstate 90 and Interstate 55.

In Will County, two drivers lost control on a patch of black ice as they crossed a bridge over a river near Wilmington. Both cars ended up in a ditch. Neither person was hurt.

The snow and rain is causing the Kankakee River to rise again. Officials said it's gained an inch since 8 p.m. Wednesday and it's already reaching utility poles and trees. So far Thursday morning, there was no word of water in any homes.

Last month, ice jams caused severe flooding in the area, cutting off access to several homes along the river.

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