April 1961: Biggest late-season snowstorm to hit Chicago

Dear Tom,
In April 1961 I went camping in southern Indiana. It snowed on Sunday and on the way back we were stranded in Indianapolis for two days. What happened?

–Dennis Cusumano, Winthrop Harbor
Dear Dennis,
You were caught in the biggest late-season snowstorm to hit Chicago and portions of northern and central Indiana. The snow was accompanied by winds up to 50 mph and created 10-foot high drifts, closing roads and stranding thousands of motorists. The snow must have come as quite a shock because Saturday’s temperatures at your campsite were in the upper 60s. Thunderstorms hit overnight and by Sunday morning 2 to 4 inches of snow were on the ground. The heaviest snow fell between Indianapolis and Chicago with totals ranging from 5 to 9 inches; Chicago officially received nearly 7 inches.

9AM Update: Fog advisory has been canceled for most of the Chicago area

The fog situation continues to ease across most of the Chicago area.  The one trouble spot that may persist throughout the day is along the immediate lakeshore in Cook and Lake Counties.   Lake cooled air interacting with boundary layer moisture may keep lakeshore communities foggy into this afternoon.   

NE Illinois including Chicago:  A Dense Fog Advisory is in effect until 10AM Tuesday for Lake, McHenry and LaSalle Counties.  The advisory for the rest of northeast Illinois (including Chicago) has been canceled.   

NW Indiana:  The dense fog advisory has been canceled. 

Southern Wisconsin:  A Dense Fog Advisory is in effect for most of southern Wisconsin (including Kenosha, Racine and Walworth Counties) until 10AM Tuesday morning.

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Above:  Counties shaded in grey are included in the Dense Fog Advisory through mid-morning 

Delays continue at O'Hare and Midway

The fog situation is starting to improve at O’Hare and Midway, but the delays continue. 

Hundreds of flights have been delayed up to 2 hours, and over 90 flights have been canceled.  One example of the type of delay air travelers are dealing with, an American Airlines flight from Buffalo scheduled to arrive at O’Hare at 8:20AM, is not expected to touchdown until 10:20AM. 

Schedules at the airports may not return to normal until this afternoon. 

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Above:  O’Hare and Midway weren’t alone in dealing with the fog, many airports across the Midwest were affected.  Here is scene at 8:30AM at the Fort Wayne Airport in Indiana where visibility is beginning to improve. 

Dense fog beginning to ease in some areas

This morning’s fog is starting to ease in many, but not all areas.  Here are a couple of pictures from our WeatherBug cameras less than 2 miles away from each other. 

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Above:  At 8AM, the fog situation  has improved considerably in downtown Chicago

Below:  At the same time just 2 miles away, dense fog continues to hug the Chicago shoreline as this view of Lincoln Park at North Avenue can attest to.

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5AM Update: Dense fog continues to blanket Chicago

A Dense Fog Advisory remains in effect for the entire Chicago area.  Motorists will be forced to slow down this morning as dense fog is limiting visibility to 1/8 of a mile in spots.  In addition to the limited visibility, the fog may freeze on some surfaces, resulting in icy patches.  Extreme caution is urged on bridges, overpasses and elevated roadways, which will be especially prone to a frosty buildup. 

NE Illinois including Chicago:  A Dense Fog Advisory is in effect until 10AM Tuesday. Areas near Lake Michigan will be particularly susceptible to periods of dense fog that will limit visibility to 1/8 of a mile or less at times. 

NW Indiana:  A Dense Fog Advisory is in effect until 10AM Tuesday for Lake, Porter and La Porte Counties.  Areas near Lake Michigan will be particularly susceptible to periods of  dense fog that will limit visibility to 1/8 of a mile or less at times. 

Southern Wisconsin:  A Dense Fog Advisory is in effect for most of southern Wisconsin (including Kenosha, Racine and Walworth Counties) until 10AM Tuesday morning.

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Above:  Counties shaded in grey are included in the Dense Fog Advisory through mid-morning