Watch CBS News

Emanuel: City Prepared For Winter

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Mayor Emanuel says no matter how bad the weather gets this winter, Chicago can handle it.

"Whether the temperature drops or there's a record snowfall, our city is going to be prepared," he said Saturday, hours before a dusting of snow was expected to blanket the metropolitan area.

Between the bitter cold and snowstorms on the average of one every three days, last winter was among Chicago's harshest ever. A total of 82 inches of snow fell at Chicago's official reporting station, O'Hare Airport, and some areas received much more. Nearly 36 years ago, Jane Byrne rode the botched response to a major snowstorm into the mayor's office. Her passing Friday was a reminder that Chicagoans expect to get around no matter what the weather.

Mayor Emanuel says the planning began before the last snowflakes fell in the spring.


Emanuel said unequivocally that he believes the city is prepared.

"Whatever Mother Nature decides to throw at the city of Chicago, the city of Chicago is ready to meet it head on," the mayor said.

He said that the planning for this winter began before the last one ended. Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Charles Williams said that, although the city never ran out of road salt last winter, it stockpiled all summer and has 400,000 tons on hand, a substantial increase.

This winter, residents can even go online and track the progress being made by snowplows. But Williams said priority will continue to be given during snowstorms to arterial streets and the streets outside schools and hospitals, with the plows moving onto the side streets once those areas are cleared.

Chicago's wintertime overnight parking ban does not begin until Dec. 1, although if two inches or more of snow falls at one time before then, the city can ban parking on its more than 600 miles of snow routes.

Snow removal for the winter of 2014-15 is budgeted at $20 million, the same as a year ago, when snow removal costs ballooned to $33 million. Emanuel said that unanticipated sales tax revenues made up the difference.

Building inspectors also have been busy. Commissioner Felicia Davis said that at least 1,579 inspections in response to complaints of lack of heat have been made since Sept. 15. Of that number 65 buildings have been referred to administrative hearings. Heat receivers have been appointed for 15 buildings (177 units) and 50 more cases are being readied for court.

Other city officials urged Chicagoans to shovel sidewalks, to make well-being checks on the elderly, to make sure water pipes are insulated from the cold, to make sure cars are winterized and have emergency kits that can be used if someone becomes stranded and to allow extra time to travel in snow or icy weather.

Volunteers can sign up at to shovel sidewalks for elderly residents and those with disabilities. For more winter preparation information, visit

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.