Bitter cold to set in after winter storm

December 12, 2010 9:19:09 PM PST
High winds and dangerous windchills are setting in after a powerful winter storm walloped the Chicago area and much of the Midwest over the weekend.

Lake effect snow continued to fall in northwest Indiana late Sunday night, and strong winds were making conditions difficult for drivers. Several inches of snow could fall in some parts of Indiana.

According to ABC7 meteorologist Phil Schwarz, winter storm warnings would remain in effect for Porter and LaPorte counties in Indiana until approximately 12 a.m. Tuesday. The warning expires for Lake County at 6 a.m. Monday. Winter weather advisories were in effect until 12 a.m. Monday for the rest of the ABC7 viewing area because of the blowing snow. Winchill advisories were expected to follow.

Snow totals were relatively low Sunday, but strong winds caused many of the problems.

With the snow tapering off Sunday night, city officials said there was still concern over high winds causing the already-fallen snow to drift onto streets. They are urging everyone to take precautions.

The snow and wind contributed to a number of crashes, including a pile-up in Hampshire, which is in Kane County. Fire officials say strong winds caused white-out conditions on Route 72 leading to a 20-vehicle crash.

Four people were taken to hospitals with minor injuries.

Westbound Interstate 80 just west of Peru in LaSalle County was shut down Sunday because of the numerous accidents caused by the slick conditions and zero visibility.

Strong wind gusts in the Chicago area mixed with sub-zero windchills and made for miserable weather conditions Sunday. Most of the Chicago area received between two and five inches of snow.

Brutal wind gusts up to 60 miles per hour created near white-out conditions in outlying areas.

Temperatures dropped into the teens Sunday and brisk winds persisted, creating dangerous wind chills expected to last for the next couple of days.

At O'Hare airport, the storm forced the cancellation of nearly 1,400 flights Sunday and more than 300 flights at Midway. Delays were reported at both airports.

Chicagoans were coping Sunday with the blowing snow and limited visibility conditions, especially near the lakefront.

"Its brutal. We were out here yesterday, too, in the rain. Snow's better than the rain," said Marge St. Paul.

With at least another week before fall officially ends, shoppers on Michigan Avenue got a combination of heavy snow and falling temperatures -- just enough to put them in the holiday spirit.

" It's nice. We like to be out and about," said Tim and Lisa Boden, who were visiting from England.

Accumulating snow showers began falling early Sunday. By afternoon, residents were trying to dig out.

City plows cleared and salted main thoroughfares. Forecasters warned conditions could become more dangerous when winds possibly gusting up to 50 miles per hour join the already sub-zero temperatures.

At Soldier Field, dedicated Bears fans had a hard time staying warm as they watched the Monsters of the Midway take on the New England Patriots in blizzard-like conditions.

"It's definitely a little windier here, but we're used to it. Enough layers and you can handle it," Bears fan AJ Amato said.

Concerns remained Sunday afternoon that high winds and drifting snow could again force the closure of parts of Lake Shore Drive.

"Drifting snow is dangerous," said Tom Byrne of the Dept. of Streets and Sanitation. "We have a number of trucks out there watching the ramps and watching Lake Shore Drive itself."

In southwest suburban Orland Park, one father said his kids begged him to go sledding. So, they did, on the condition that no one complained about the cold. The sledders said the hill was good and the sleds were moving quickly.

"It's kind of fun, just like snow blowing in your face. It's refreshing," one child said.

"As long as we don't have to be driving anywhere and the streets are clean it's better than sitting inside and playing video games," said the father.

Elsewhere in Orland Park, crews were busy clearing store parking lots. It seems the snow and wind weren't going to keep people from doing a bit of holiday shopping.

The winter storm proved to be both intense and widespread. At one point, all 72 counties in the state of Wisconsin were under a state of emergency due to blizzard conditions.

Plows were out trying to keep highways clear just north and west of Milwaukee. Interstate 94 was closed between Milwaukee and Madison due to multiple car accidents.

The storm was also making travel treacherous across the lake in Michigan. Snow and high winds left roads snow-covered across most of the state.

In Minnesota, the roof of the Minneapolis Metrodome collapsed under the weight of nearly 2 feet of snow. Sunday's scheduled football game was moved to Detroit for Monday.

The Bears are scheduled to play Minneapolis next Monday. Officials said Sunday they did not know the dome's status for that game.


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