CHICAGO (CBS) — The City of Chicago says it's ready for the worst when it comes to winter weather.
As WBBM Newsradio's Lisa Fielding reports, city officials gathered Wednesday at the Office of Emergency Management and Communications to reassure the public that its departments are ready for what could be an extremely rough winter.
AccuWeather has predicted temperatures 2 to 3 degrees colder than normal, and nearly twice the normal amount of snowfall. The agency's long-range forecast predicts the Chicago area will be hit with 50 to 58 inches of snow in total — at least 20 inches above normal.
There is no prediction about whether a blizzard like the one seen this past first Feb. 1 and 2 could occur again this coming winter, but if it does, the city is ready.
"We're extremely prepared for another blizzard," said OEMC Executive Director Gary Schenkel. "We've not only done the after action review, but we've come up with new procedures."
The city has purchased 30 new snow plow trucks, it's improved its communication and finished a project to avert problems on Lake Shore Drive.
During the February blizzard, Lake Shore Drive was shut down for 33 hours and hundreds of cars were left stranded. City officials say the finished project should keep that from happening again.
"There are removable barriers that we can go in there with front-end loaders and remove them quickly," said Department of Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Tom Byrne. "If we are stuck like we were last year, the idea is that we can move those barriers during the course of the night, get those people out to get them some relief and get them south."
Byrne says the department also has about 312,000 tons of salt ready.
Schenkel says the OEMC will be utilizing Twitter, Facebook and an online service called Notify Chicago to communicate weather alerts and other important weather news.
There were 57.9 inches of snow last year, which was 20 inches above normal. The February blizzard dropped 21.2 inches.