Lake-effect snow inundates northwest Indiana

February 4, 2009 3:28:47 PM PST
Some parts of northwest Indiana are digging out from more than a foot of snow. Lake-effect snow started falling Tuesday and it is finally winding down Wednesday night. As you drive southeast out of Chicago -- and the clear skies Chicagoans enjoyed all day -- you really have no idea about the weather in Porter County, Indiana. . As you come over the Skyway, the weather changes. It is very different and it is very challenging.

Two days of lake-effect snow has piled up above and around Chesterton, Ind., 13,000. It was enough over two days to stop municipal workers from punching the clock and to close schools.

"We get our fair share of snow. We're on the southern tip of Lake Michigan and all the lake-effect comes right down on top of us," said Chief George Nelson, Chesterton Police.

Indiana Master Trooper David Miller put in a 15.5 hour day Tuesday, attending to spinouts and accidents.

Porter County is under a Level 2 emergency order -- people are asked to stay indoors unless it is absolutely necessary to travel. In Burns Harbor, high winds have been blowing snow across Interstate 94, and Trooper Miller says there are just too many inexperienced people driving against conditions.

"I've had drivers from Florida, you know, Southern drivers that are up visiting family or on vacation and just not used to it," said Master Trooper David Miller, Indiana State Police.

The Page family has been in Chesterton for 21 years. Even in the snowbelt, they've never seen a winter like this.

"Most of the time, LaPorte County gets it, South Bend. Lately the wind has been shifting right over Porter County. I would say we expect it but not to this degree," said Barry Page, resident.

"It's not very easy to stay in your house and sit around. As long as you get out and do something, it helps a lot," said Colin Page, resident.

With the 20 inches of snow or so that has fallen in Chesterton, that has brought the annual snowfall for this winter well above the average of 43 inches, which is typically what happens in Porter County.

To the south, they've been struggling with this winter. They're running out of salt in Valparaiso. They started the year with half of the salt for roads they normally would have because of the cost. They were able to locate a supplier who was able to get them a whole bunch more salt at about one-third of the price than the market is demanding right now.