Snow expected in Midwest as winter finally hits region

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FILE – In this Monday, March 15, 2021 file photo, snow covers vehicles parked along Second Avenue after a powerful late winter storm dumped more than 2 feet of snow in Denver. The storm shut down major roadways, canceled school and closed the state legislature. On Monday, March 22, 2021, the National Weather Service upgraded its forecast model, with an eye on predicting extreme weather events better and faster. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

CHICAGO, Ill. (AP) — The winter that took its time getting to the Midwest is finally expected to arrive on the first day of the new year.

The National Weather Service said the snow could start falling late Saturday morning and that as much as 9 inches (22 centimeters) of snow could fall by the end of the day.

In Michigan, the heaviest snow isn’t expected to start falling until Saturday night, with as much as 7 inches (17 centimeters) expected along Interstate 94 in west Michigan and 2 to 5 inches (5 to 12 centimeters) anticipated in the southeastern part of the state. And the northern end of Indiana is expected to see between 3 to 6 inches (7 to 15 centimeters) of snow.

Chicago and surrounding suburbs are caught between a winter storm coming in from the southwest and a northeasterly wind coming off of Lake Michigan — a combination that could create as much as an inch of lake effect snow every hour.

“Winter has finally arrived,” weather service meteorologist Brett Borchardt told the Chicago Tribune. “We knew it was going to happen at some point.”

Transportation officials are warning motorists that the mix of rain and snow could make the roads slippery and reduce visibility and that they should be particularly careful when they cross bridges, which freeze first.

They also recommend that motorists should take it slow, increase the distance between vehicles and, before they get behind the wheel, make sure they have packed emergency supplies such as cellphones, food, washer fluid and ice scrapers.

“Hazardous travel conditions will develop this evening and continue into tonight,” the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids said. “A combination of snow, blowing and drifting snow and falling temperatures into the teens will create hazardous travel.”

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