Chicagoans clear first major snowfall as temps drop

January 12, 2012 10:00:00 PM PST
A blast of arctic air followed the first snow storm of the season with below-zero wind chills moving into the Chicago area.

As residents of Chicago and its suburbs spent Friday digging out, temperatures dropped.

Earlier in the day, shovels and snow blowers were out in full force tackling the snow that had piled up.

Suburban Lincolnwood - population 12,501 - got walloped with 8.2 inches of snow, the most white stuff in one place in the region.

Snow plow drivers in the north suburb were celebrated by their boss with a pizza lunch after they completed what he said was a job well done. Director of Publics Works Manuel Castaneda and his second in command, Public Works foreman Lupe Martinez, were excited -- like coaches of sports team in the hours ahead of Thursday's storm.

"It was a wet snow at the beginning," said Castaneda. "We did the de-icing, which did what it was supposed to do, and more than that, it was kind of wet at the beginning and started changing drastically in the temperature and that compacted the snow."

"It's exciting, a little bit nervous because you don't know if all the equipment is going to work as you wish, but it's just nice to be able to do what you're prepared to do and what you like to do," said Martinez.

Lincolnwood spent about $10,000 -- or 2 percent of its annual $500,000 snow removal budget -- on fighting the first storm of 2012.

In general, 4 to 8 inches were reported throughout the region. Lincolnwood's 8.2 inches was 67 percent more than the 4.9 inches of snow at O'Hare International Airport, the area's official recording station.

Despite the snowfall, all employees at Microway Sytems, a manufacturer of connection devices in Lincolnwood, were able to get to work on time

"It would have been nice if somebody called and said, you can stay home, but no," said Luann Gawlik, Microway Sytems employee.

"It was no fun. It took me almost two hours just to get home," said South Side resident Lucy Lopez, Microway Sytems employee.

The work of the public sector was noted throughout the 2.5 square mile town.

Lincolnwood resident Lahid Ali just returned from holidays in Iraq. And true to form, when coming home from a hot spot, she was greeted with a storm.

"I have been in worse. I lived in Rochester, New York before. I don't mind it," said Lahid.

As temperatures dipped Friday afternoon, plow and salt trucks made their way through Lincolnwood and nearby towns, trying to keep the roads from getting too icy.

South Shore waits for city to clear side streets

In the city, workers continue to clear more than 3,000 miles of side streets.

Though major thoroughfares, for the most part, were clear, side streets in the South Shore neighborhood were still a work in progress Friday afternoon. Some had been plowed and salted; others were somewhat clear. But a good number remained snow covered.

For South Shore resident Khristine Chapman, it was a rough day behind the wheel.

"It is kind of slick once you turn that corner," said Chapman. "I almost went into the pole, but I got a grip on it."

"We can moan and groan all we want about the services and stuff that we're getting, but it seems like nobody is hearing our prayers," said Noe Garcia, South Shore resident.

After last February's monster blizzard, it took several days for plows to finish the job in South Shore, prompting numerous complaints, a review by the city's inspector general, and the reassignment of the 7th Ward Streets and Sanitation superintendent.

"We want some extra attention this year," said Jerry Feemster, South Shore resident. "That would be nice, make up for what happened last year."

After the 2011 storm, ABC7 met residents on the on the 3000 block of 79th Place who, after several days of waiting, decided to clear their street on their own. Now on the same block, those same residents are again waiting on the city, though many remain patient.

"I've got confidence. You know, this is my city. So yeah, I've got confidence in them," said Brandon Jackson, South Shore resident.

"Do I have any other choice?" said Perry Cline, South Shore resident. "I gotta be patient, got to be. I've got faith in them this year. They'll be coming around."

Chicago offers high-tech help to cope with snow

The city says its new plow tracker website, ChicagoShovels.org, received more than 45,000 views throughout the storm.

Next week, Chicago will implement another new feature on the site called Adopt-A-Sidewalk. The idea is to take responsibility for your own sidewalk -- but also find people like Patrick Egeston, who is more than willing to help his neighbors.

"I went all down the road, back this way, just help out the neighbors who need it this year," he said.

The site would also allow people who need help to reach out -- like Egeston's neighbors down the block.

"Every winter when it snows like this we need help. Everybody does, not just us," said Velvet Owens, Egeston's neighbor.

Chicago officials are thrilled that the Chicago Shovels website broke city records with this storm.

"There is a desire to peer into city government, to look at how things are done," said John Tolva, Chicago's chief technology officer.

Naperville implemented a similar program, getting nearly 2,000 hits on Thursday. Computer experts see the benefits technology brings to city government.

"It would be really neat to have more things - live track, live available - to the public. It's a great start. You get a feel for what is the city really doing for us, I think that's good," said Prof. Jakob Eriksson, UIC Computer Science Department.

Snow causes crashes, airport delays

The storm is blamed for dozens of spinouts and accidents on Chicago-area roadways overnight and Friday morning. At least 40 accidents were reported on Cook County expressways.

Crews in salt trucks did what they could to make driving conditions safer, but some morning commuters just didn't heed the warnings to ease up on their speed on the slick and icy expressways.

No serious injuries were reported.

The Illinois State Police is now enacting its emergency snow plan. Officials tell drivers who are involved in an accident with no injuries not to call the police. Authorities say the parties should exchange personal information and insurance information.

With continuing winter weather conditions Friday, some airlines at O'Hare Airport were experiencing delays of 30 minutes or less with over 50 cancellations for the day at O'Hare.

Midway Airport reported minor delays and a number of cancellations.


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