CHICAGO
11/29/2011 05:40 pm ET

Cook County Homeland Security Gears Up For Brutal Weather This Season (VIDEO)

As strong winds, rain and snow are already beginning to make a mark on Chicago, Cook County Homeland Security is gearing up for what they expect will be a brutal winter.

High winds and the beginning stages of snowfall prompted the Chicago Police Department to shut down the lakefront bike path from Olive Park to Fullerton Tuesday morning, as gusts brought waves from Lake Michigan dangerously high and close to shore, Fox Chicago reports. A wind advisory is in place until 9 p.m. Tuesday, and gusts are reportedly moving at up to 50 miles per hour.

Cook County officials believe this foreshadows dangerously severe winter weather this season and have advised the Department of Homeland Security to prepare accordingly.

"We take severe weather conditions very seriously, and are putting into place a robust operational plan designed to assist in reducing the potential impact on our townships and municipalities," Michael Masters, executive director of the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, told NBC Chicago.

AccuWeather predicted in October that Chicago is looking to get about 58 inches of snow this winter, prompting the DHSEM to mobilize early.

Last year's snow, the third-largest in the city's history, reportedly cost Chicago and sister agencies $37.5 million, NBC Chicago reports.

The 2011 blizzard also stranded hundreds of motorists on Lake Shore Drive, prompting the installation of two new turnarounds with movable concrete medians late last month.

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