Chicago parks to reopen after snowstorm: Visitors

WASHINGTON — The city of Chicago will reopen this weekend to visitors after a three-day blizzard caused severe traffic disruptions and shut down dozens of parks.

The city’s parks department said Thursday that it would reopen after an overnight snowstorm that killed five people and caused $1.5 billion in damage.

The department had said Thursday it would open Friday.

“The parks department will reopen the city’s Chicago River Park in a safe and efficient manner as it has in the past,” said Dan Wiederer, the parks department’s director of operations.

The park was closed to public use Wednesday, but will reopen Thursday.

The parks department had shut down the streets in the city of some 400,000 people after two days of snowfall.

Officials said that the number of people without power, roads and sidewalks in Chicago rose by nearly 25 percent Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

The mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, issued a travel warning Thursday morning as snow fell in the Chicago suburbs and a tornado warning issued for the Chicago area was lifted.

He said the forecast is “favorable for clear skies and for moderate wind gusts over the city.”

The National Weather Service in Illinois issued a tornado watch for the Illinois suburbs of Cook, DuPage and Lake County, which includes Chicago, as of 5 p.m.

Friday.

A tornado warning was issued for parts of western Illinois.

The weather service in St. Louis said that a severe weather system was moving west of the Midwest, with wind gust totals of 85 mph and gusts of 75 mph in the St. Charles County area.

A severe weather advisory was in effect for parts the eastern part of the state of Missouri.

Weather forecasts for Friday night were still unclear.

A weather system moving north from the Pacific Ocean was expected to move through the eastern U.S. early Friday.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Friday that the storm would move away from the Atlantic Ocean in the Atlantic and eventually move into the Gulf of Mexico.