The Heat Is Online

Midwest Hit With Another Major Storm

Storm leaves nearly a foot of snow

 

Chicago Tribune, Feb. 1, 2008

 

An overnight snowstorm that delayed hundreds of flights, closed hundreds of schools and created dangerous driving conditions in the Chicago area was tapering off Friday afternoon, but not before leaving nearly a foot of snow on the ground.

Far west suburban Elburn was reported to be the hardest hit with 11 inches of snowfall, said Gino Izzi, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

WGN-Ch. 9 studios on Chicago's North Side had 10.6 inches of snow on the ground, according to Izzi, and the Jefferson Park neighborhood on the Northwest Side had 10.4 inches. Other spots hit hard by the snow were Batavia and Aurora, each with 10 inches, and Elgin and Berwyn, each with 10.2 inches.

Izzi said the snowfall was mainly concentrated Friday afternoon south of Chicago in Kankakee County, and northwest Indiana.

At an early-morning news conference, Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Michael Picardi said the city's 273 snow-fighting trucks are plowing main streets. Officials have also called out an extra 83 garbage trucks equipped with quick-hitch plows, along with 24 smaller plows.

"When you get a rapid snowfall like this it takes a long time to clear the main streets," Picardi said. "By no means should anyone takes these conditions lightly."

He said nearly whiteout conditions were reported Friday morning along Lake Shore Drive, and several neighborhoods on the Southeast Side were getting hit especially hard because of blowing and drifting snow.

The storm prompted many school officials across the city and suburbs to delay their school's opening or cancel school for the day. A handful of charter schools within the Chicago Public Schools were closed, however, the rest of the public schools remained open, said CPS spokesman Malon Edwards.

At O'Hare International Airport on Friday morning, about 500 flights were canceled because of the weather, said Gregg Cunningham, a spokesman for the Chicago Department of Aviation. The airport was also experiencing delays averaging 45 minutes to one hour for inbound and outbound flights.

But "due to improving weather and airfield conditions, airlines expect schedules to begin returning to normal," Cunningham said.

Midway Airport had about 40 cancellations and delays averaging 30 to 90 minutes, Cunningham said.Officials asked air travelers to check with their airlines before heading to the airport. Updated delay and cancellation information was not immediately available this morning, said an aviation spokeswoman.

Illinois State Police Trooper Mark Hall said at least 10 cars slid into ditches, and some cars crashed into walls on area expressways early Friday. He added, however, that there were no serious injuries in any of the crashes.

On the tollway system, an emergency snow plan is in effect where drivers involved in only property damage crashes are asked to exchange insurance information and report the accident at another time.

"The roads are icy and hazardous, but they're still trying to keep up with it," Illinois State Police Master Sgt. William Aukstolis said. "There's a lot of slipping and sliding but nothing major because I don't think you can go that fast."

"I got in my car at 6:15 this morning, and I got to work at 9:39," said Dina Rhea, 44, whose drive from Dolton usually takes about 45 minutes, she said. She said she took side streets to work to avoid traffic on the highways.

"It felt like a road trip. And I didn't stop at the store to get my coffee like I normally do because I was afraid of getting stuck, so it was an interesting morning," she said.

"Did I have to come downtown? No, but when you're responsible, you have to do certain things I guess," said Ed Rolnick, who said his drive into the city from Northbrook took about 2 hours. "You know what though, you expect it. I'm 65 years old, I've gone through this enough to know what's coming."

Anthony Carter, a 25-year-old valet manager for the Drake Hotel, figured the light snowfall Thursday night wouldn't pick up that much. But "it took almost an hour to get out of my parking space this morning, and then another 45 minutes to get to work," from the area around Halsted Street and Jackson Boulevard, which had not been plowed, he said.

"Normally, my commute is six minutes. I can only hope it's better on the ride home!"

Commuters to the Loop half-walked, half-slid over slushy sidewalks Friday morning, facing a sort of mini-steeplechase event on street corners where puddles and piles of snow left behind by plows stood in their way. Delays on the roads and with public transportation left some scrambling to get to work, but others were unfazed.

Chicago Transit Authority office workers, along with CTA President Ron Huberman, were helping janitors shovel snow off train platforms, said spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney.

While the CTA reported no significant problems with its train or bus service due to the weather, Logan Square resident LaTonya Brown, 37, said the CTA Blue Line trains at Kimball and Belmont Avenues were running about a 30 minutes late Friday morning, but she was taking the delay in stride.

"It takes a lot to stop this city," said Brown during a stop for coffee. "I'm just hoping that the trek back home isn't so bad.

Brown, who has lived in Chicago her whole life, had geared up for the commute. She wore two jackets, a scarf, hat, boots and two pairs of socks. "I roll the pants up so I at least have some kind of dignity when I get to work," she joked.

Abhinandan Khanna, a 30-year-old Lincoln Park resident, said his CTA bus  the No. 134 express  was also delayed, making him about a half-hour late to his job as an asset manager for a real estate firm in the Loop. He said it was the worst weather-related commuting delay he has experienced in the three years he has lived in the city. And the final trudge to work wasn't going so great, either.

"It's been rough," he said, looking down at his feet. "My shoes are pretty wet inside."

Two Metra trains experienced delays of up to 25 minutes due to the weather.

Lombard resident Diane Devine said her Metra train made all its stops on time Friday. She was prepared for the elements, wearing two scarfs, sweat pants, boots, earmuffs, hat and hood. She also carried an umbrella.

"Quite proud of that," joked Devine, who has been commuting from the western suburb for about 7 years. "I've got it all down."

Copyright © 2008, Chicago Tribune

 

Storm stretches from Texas to Great Lakes

 

Up to a foot of snow expected in Chicago; 40-car pileup in Texas Panhandle

 

The Associated Press, Feb. 1, 2008

 

CHICAGO - A huge storm that has killed four people and stretched from Texas to the Great Lakes blanketed the United States' midsection with snow, tying up air travel and making roads treacherous Friday as it headed for the Northeast.

 

At least 5 inches of snow was reported at Chicago's Midway Airport by early Friday. More than 600 flights were canceled Thursday at O'Hare International Airport, where hundreds of stranded travelers spent the night awaiting planes from other cities also affected by the storm. Low visibility continued to be a problem.

 

Up to 12 inches of snow was forecast for the Chicago area by Friday afternoon. But the National Weather Service began canceling snow advisories in the state by midmorning as the storm headed for the Northeast.

 

Hundreds of schools in Michigan canceled class Friday in anticipation of the storm, which was expected to drop as many as 13 inches of snow in the southeastern portion of the state. Up to 4 inches had fallen by early Friday.

 

Billowing snow in the Texas Panhandle caused a 40-car pileup on Interstate 40 on Thursday that killed at least one person. Three other deaths were blamed on the storm, two in Texas and one in Oklahoma.

 

The system was expected to move into the Northeast later Friday, bringing with it a wintry mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain.  

 

Severe weather also wasn't expected to let up anytime soon in Idaho, which has been besieged by snow in recent days.

 

National Weather Service meteorologist John Livingston said a snowstorm was expected to blow through on Saturday and Sunday, with cold predicted to stretch at least through the middle of next week.

 

Officials in Kootenai County in northern Idaho declared a state of emergency Thursday as roofs collapsed, roads became impassable and senior citizens were stranded because of the repeated snowstorms.

 

"You can only stack the snow so high, and we're running out of places to put it," said Rick Carrie, county commissioner.

 

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.