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EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. — A winter storm creeping its way across portions of Illinois is mucking roads with a mix of sleet and snow. It’s also forcing the schools to close early and hampering travel.

In the Chicago area, school closures and late starts were announced and the morning commute was slowed. O’Hare airport got 2.7 inches of slow and Midway got three. There were reports of hearing thunder.

Forecasters say the severe weather that arrived in the region Thursday morning was expected to leave as much as 2 inches of snow and sleet in portions of Illinois near St. Louis.

Farther south, the National Weather Service says Illinoisans can expect a half inch to an inch of sleet before the storm clears out later in the day.

Thursday’s temperatures in the region were forecast to remain below or near freezing, with highs in the 40s possible on Friday.

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