ROCHELLE — Area residents spent their Monday digging out of an early snowstorm that officially brought 12 inches to the area late Sunday. Ogle County and many places in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin also got socked with heavy snow totals.
The National Weather Service 24-hour snowfall totals in Rochelle and Ashton recorded 12 inches. The major early season winter storm produced a record at both Rockford International Airport (11.7 inches) and Chicago O’Hare International Airport (8.4 inches).
As the snow increased Sunday evening, the National Weather Service upgraded the winter storm warning to a blizzard warning that encompassed much of the area.
High winds, whiteout conditions and slippery roads created hazardous travel with many roads closed and impassable. Ogle County Sheriff’s Office urged everyone to stay off the roads unless it was an emergency.
Lt. Jason Underwood with the Rochelle Fire Department said fire crews rescued several stranded motorists during the height of the storm and placed them in area hotels.
“I know of at least two families we got from vehicles in the Creston area,” Underwood said on Monday. “One family stayed at the fire department last night because there weren’t any available hotel rooms. They could not get a tow truck out there today but a local farmer helped pull their car out of the ditch.”
Underwood said the best thing people can do is stay put if at all possible.
“We urge everyone to stay off the road in dangerous conditions but if they must travel, have a full tank of gas and have gloves, hats, and blankets in the car.”
By late Monday plows were still clearing major highways and roadways.
Underwood said with blowing and drifting snow, it is important for homeowners to make sure the fresh air intake and exhaust vents for furnaces and dryers are kept clear. These are usually white plastic pipes. Snow that blocks intake pipes or exhaust vents can cause dangerous carbon monoxide to back up into the home.
The winter wonderland provided for some fun as well. Many donned their cold weather gear to make snowmen and forts or to go sledding. Area schools along with Kishwaukee College and Northern Illinois University were closed on Monday.
Due to the weather, garbage pickup will be delayed one day this week.