Powerful winds, blinding snow hit area

January 29, 2008 9:02:06 PM PST
Snow, wind and biting cold deliver a bitter blow to the end of a day that began with temperatures in the upper 40s.The wintry blast was creating dangerous driving conditions in some areas.

O'Hare has seen a 41 degree temperature drop in six hours.

"The wind is whipping up the snow so much it's painful when it hits you in the face," said ABC7's Kevin Roy, reporting from a Kennedy overpass.

At times it looked like a dust storm or sand storm, wet and white and windy.

Blizzard-like conditions hit Chicago around 7 p.m. Tuesday evening, making driving treacherous and forcing the city's full fleet of 273 snow-fighting trucks out on the streets.

"This is a very dangerous winter storm. Mayor Daley wanted me to caution everybody when you're driving in these type of conditions, you have to take extra time, you have to leave space between you and the vehicle in front of you," said Commissioner Mike Picardi, Chicago Streets & Sanitation.

The city is also on high alert for high winds. Wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour are expected, forcing the cancellation of more than 350 flights at O'Hare airport and 10 more at Midway.

This late January day felt more like April earlier on, with temperatures hitting 50, then plummeting into the 20s in the evening and getting close to zero overnight.

The storm was worse outside the city in places like Gary, Indiana, the near whiteout conditions were enough to have one former Californian dreaming of home.

"I'm enjoying the snow," he said. "You make the best, you know, with what you have."

The Kennedy was at a crawl at 10 p.m. Teusday.

Five thousand customers in the area were without power at 10 p.m. If you see a downed power line or tree limb, call the city's 311 number for help.

Most of the area has seen between an inch and an inch and a half of snow, but we have seen wind gusts running close to 50 miles per hour across the area, making travel hazardous and visibilities lower, especially on the north-south roads.

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