Every forecast model for showed the potential for 6 to 7 inches of snow in the area south of Joliet, north of Kankakee. As the March 5 storm approached, its estimated time of arrival got later and later, but the amount of snow predicted was a constant, and Wilmington prepared for the worst.
About 4 inches accumulated in grassy areas by evening - it may have been more had it been colder; temperatures hovered around 33 degrees all day, according to Wilmington Emergency Services and Disaster Agency director Dennis Housman. Housman drove home to Essex on clear but wet roads.
The city of Wilmington pre-empted the storm that by all accounts was going to be a big one, and on Monday announced that the Tuesday City Council meeting was being rescheduled for Wednesday.
The city crew though didn't have to hit the streets until around noon Tuesday, and made sure any accumulation was cleared away. Superintendent of public works Gary Van Duyne said there really wasn't all that much to plow. What hit the streets melted right away for most of the day, although there was a good accumulation in the grass.
He scheduled half the crew for a late Tuesday shift, and the other half to come in at 5 a.m. Wednesday to ensure the roads would be clear and safe for the morning commute. Typically, the city crew clears streets to make them passable, and then goes back out to push the snow back to expose the full width of the pavement.
School District 209U superintendent Jay Plese and assistant superintendent Dr. Matt Swick weighed early release against a snowday in the wee hours Tuesday morning. They decided to err on the side of safety on a very unpredictable weather day, and canceled school.
"This was going to be a pretty good snowstorm before it was over," Superintendent Plese said. "... When it gets down to it, we ask, 'how is this day going to pan out?' If there's a question of the safety of a child, there's no doubt we're pulling the plug."
The district calendar has snow days built into it, so taking one now will not mean the school year will be extended.
Parents and kids were happy for the free day - a quick check of Facebook shows how they used it, baking brownies and cookies, building snowmen and having snowball fights.
The closure was reported to parents through the Alert Now system. It was also posted on the district's website, and reported to the area Emergency Closing Center.
The Wilmington Island Park District canceled youth basketball practice for Tuesday night, following the lead of the school district when it comes to closing or canceling for the weather. Sunday games, however, are still on.
Housman said ESDA volunteers were on standby Tuesday afternoon and evening, but that the worst of the storm was expected to pass through the area by 8 p.m. The police and fire departments hadn't been asked to respond to storm-related incidents all afternoon, and the emergency responders were looking forward to a fairly quiet night.
Look for a fast melt - temperatures will be above freezing for the rest of the week, hitting 40 by Saturday.