CHICAGO (AP) — Mother Nature is apparently saving the best, or at least the biggest, for last.
Chicago residents expected to find themselves in the midst of a storm that could wind up dumping as much as 10 inches of snow in the area before the end of Tuesday — the most since the 2011 blizzard and its more than 20 inches of snow.
"This will be the biggest widespread storm of the winter," National Weather Service meteorologist Amy Seeley said. The forecast is for 8 to 10 inches throughout northeastern Illinois and northwest Indiana, a far cry from last March, which saw less than a half-inch of snow and was the warmest one on record in Illinois.
Hardware stores in and around the city did brisk business Monday, selling salt and snow shovels at a time many usually turn their thoughts toward gardening and baseball.
"Everybody's got a little comment with every bag they're buying," said Mike McIntosh, who works at Dressel's Hardware in Oak Park just outside Chicago. Workers had started to stock the shelves with tools and supplies associated with spring and summer, only to find the shovels and salt they thought they'd hold for another year were still in demand.
"Everybody's a bit surprised, but it's good for us, we've got a lot of this stuff to move," he said.
On Monday, the system moved across the Dakotas and Minnesota, dropping up to a foot of snow in some areas and freezing rain in others. Some schools closed and officials warned motorists to stay off the roads.
As it moved eastward, emergency officials in a number of states issued similar warnings in the hopes that commuters will leave their cars in the garage and take public transportation to work. In Wisconsin, where as much as a foot of snow is in the forecast, emergency managers urged residents to put winter survival kits in their vehicles and check on road conditions.