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Mya Hewitt, 12, crash-lands in the snow after sledding with her brother. Anthony, 9, Tuesday at McKinley Park in Peru. Local schools released early Tuesday, giving Melissa Hewitt of La Salle a chance to play in the snow with her kids. “We came at the perfect time,” she said.
Winter Storm Rocky packed a punch Tuesday, dumping at least 3 inches of snow across the Illinois Valley — but Rocky didn’t bring a knockout blow, either. Wet, heavy snow forced early school dismissals Tuesday afternoon and brought notable accumulation throughout North Central Illinois. The National Weather Service reported 3 inches in Princeton and Marseilles and 4.4 inches in Earlville. Senica’s Interstate Towing had a busy night pulling passenger cars and tractor trailers from roadside ditches in an area ranging from Dixon to Morris. “It’s just crazy drivers, I think,” owner Jeff Senica said before adding, “It was really heavy snow, and it’s hard to drive in that slush.” Not helping matters were wind gusts that peaked at 43 mph Tuesday at Illinois Valley Regional Airport in Peru. “Actually, we’re open for business,” airport manager Chuck Studer reported this morning. “The guys came over and plowed as soon as they were done with the roads. We had a jet leave this morning.” State police had their hands full with stranded motorists — District 17 spokesman Craig Graham counted 27 motorist-assist requests — but troopers finished the night with a limited number of collisions. “All told we had eight crashes, all of which were property damage only,” Graham said. “No injuries, thank God. It could have been a lot worse.” The storm’s slow descent gave most residents time to get off the roads and to clear their driveways before the snow cover became back-wrenching to shovel. One local hospital reported no snow-related emergency room visits whatsoever. “It was very quiet yesterday,” said Gene Vogelgesang, spokesman for Illinois Valley Community Hospital, Peru. “We didn’t have anything weather-related.” Rocky’s worst would appear to be behind us. Amy Seeley, meteorologist with the service’s Romeoville forecasting station, said to expect a little precipitation today but to also have the snow shovels handy Thursday morning. “There’s a chance for some late snow, but mainly there shouldn’t be any accumulation,” Seeley said. “After midnight, you could see 1-2 inches.” Whatever snow we get tonight might stick around for a while. The Weather Channel’s website shows that after today there is only a 10 percent to 20 percent chance of snow through Sunday, but temperatures will seldom rise above freezing. Warm, melting conditions are not forecast until late next week, when sunshine and temperatures peaking in the mid-40s chase the remnants of Rocky away. Rocky saved his worst damage for the Colorado, Kansas, Missouri and Iowa before crawling into Illinois on Tuesday morning. Within the Land of Lincoln, Chicago bore the brunt of the storm. The Associated Press reported 2-4 inches in the Windy City but noted some northern suburbs got 7½ inches. By late afternoon, airlines canceled almost 500 flights at Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway international airports. Locally, the snow was forecast to arrive late Tuesday afternoon into evening. Rocky instead made an early entrance and forced schools to summon the yellow buses for early-afternoon dismissal. This morning, local schools were reopened; and only Bureau Valley schools reported a one-hour delayed opening to the NewsTribune. Dimmick School sent students home at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday — late enough that the district did not have to burn a snow day. Kids might not be happy with the lack of snow days, but at least summer vacation would begin right on schedule. “We haven’t used any snow days yet — not for the last two years,” superintendent Ryan Linnig said. “Of course, we used five snow days the year before that, so we’re making up for it. “We’re hoping this is it,” he added. “I’m hoping the weather clears up and we have smooth sailing from here on out.”