Chicago snowfall
© Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune
Snow falls in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood Nov. 21, 2015.
The season's first snowfall dropped as much as 17 inches across Chicago's northern suburbs, and the total of 11.2 inches at O'Hare International Airport made it the largest November snowfall in 120 years.

The steady stream of snow began Friday evening and carried into Saturday, bringing cold winds and slushy puddles to Michigan Avenue. But it also fashioned a wintry backdrop to the annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, transporting Chicagoans into a life-sized holiday snow globe.

The chill didn't bother the Kendalls, who traveled from Northwest Indiana for the festivities. They stood in Pioneer Court bundled in snow gear, relishing bites of candy-cane-garnished cheesecake as heavy snowflakes plopped onto their noses.

"It rings in the beginning of Christmas season," said Jessica Kendall. "The roads are warm, the snow's melting and we had a nice, wintry drive."

The storm hit hardest in the northern suburbs.

Lake County was walloped. By about 2 p.m. Saturday, there were reports of 17 inches in Grayslake, 16.5 in Hawthorn Woods, and 15.5 inches in Mundelein, said National Weather Service meteorologist Jamie Enderlen.

McHenry County also was socked, with 13.6 inches in Bull Valley, 12.5 inches in Woodstock and 9.5 inches in Hebron by about 7 a.m. Saturday, according to the weather service.

Communities further south saw less precipitation. Naperville had 6.4 inches of snow as of midafternoon, and Romeoville had 4.7 inches as of early evening, according to the weather service. Batavia had 7.5 inches by late afternoon.

As of about 6 p.m. Saturday, 11.2 inches of snow was measured at O'Hare International Airport, where some airlines reported delays of up to 20 minutes and more than 260 flights were canceled. Midway Airport reported 5.8 inches.

According to the weather service, this was the second-largest November snowstorm, behind only a 12-inch snowfall Nov. 25-26, 1895.

This month is catapulted to the fourth snowiest November on record with more than a week remaining. The three snowiest Novembers were: 1940 with 14.8 inches, 1895 with 14.5 inches and 1951 with 14.3 inches.

In Lake County, municipal and county removal crews worked Saturday to clear the streets, and Tom Haggerty, Waukegan's director of public works, said late Saturday morning they were succeeding. The major consideration was, as always, urging city residents to move their vehicles off the streets so plow drivers would have an easier time cleaning.

In Aurora, Brian Kannry took it all in stride. As a snowplow driver for Beverly Snow & Ice, the Naperville man spent part of Saturday clearing the Route 59 train station parking lot.

"This is pretty weak," he said of the accumulation. "I was here at 5 a.m. but not much of the snow was sticking. But I've got to keep these sidewalks clear so people don't slip and fall."

With the steady snowfall and light wind, residents were busy shoveling driveways while children used the weather to build snowmen and go sledding. About a dozen kids and parents were bundled up and out enjoying the sled hill at Arrowhead Park in Naperville.

"My kids have been out here all morning," said Steve Vilim, of Naperville, who was supervising his daughter Elena, 13, and son Teddy, age 7. "They were up at 6 a.m. and went right out to build a snowman."

Naperville Sun reporter Susan Frick Carlman and freelance reporters Gary Gibula and Denys Bucksten contributed.