Northwest Ind. hit by lake-effect snow

January 13, 2011 4:21:49 AM PST
Snowfall in northwest Indiana caused white-out conditions and accidents Wednesday morning, forcing lane closures on Interstate 94 and the Indiana Toll Road.

The snow let up Wednesday night.

But some areas of LaPorte County got about a foot of lake-effect snow, and residents are busy digging out.

The snow brought traffic to a standstill on westbound I-94, near Michigan City.

"We've been waiting about an hour, hour and a half. And it's tough, really tough," said motorist John Scranfeld.

"It's terrible. And it's not getting any better because they can't get no plows through here. So it's like, what are you going to do?" said motorist Charles Brandenburg.

The backup, which stretched for miles, began shortly after 9 a.m. when officials say white-out conditions left vehicles and a handful of semi trucks stranded.

"We're seeing this problem where it just dumps the snow on a particular area and just makes the travel real treacherous, so we're just asking people to really slow down, take their time," said Jim Pinkerton with the Indiana Department of Transportation.

Driver Michelle Alfred heeded that advice.

She pulled over to avoid an accident, only to get stuck in heavy snow.

"It happened really fast. The snow was really heavy. It was a white-out, and you really couldn't see," Alfred said.

After about an hour and a half, traffic started flowing again as crews worked quickly to clear the interstate.

"Well, we're about two hours behind schedule right now. So what do you expect? It's winter, right?" said Sandy Kreiser.

Professor Kim Clark was supposed to be teaching at DePaul University.

"A lot of kids are going to be really happy that they got out of class this morning," Clarks said.

Classes were canceled altogether at several schools in LaPorte County, where some places received up to a foot of snow.

"It was just a complete white-out. You couldn't see nothing. I couldn't even see my plow in front of my truck, that's how bad it was," said snow remover Michele Blackwell.

School teacher Don Thompson got a snow day but ended up working harder.

"I blew some snow, came back out about a half hour later, and it was a lot then too. So it was coming pretty quick," Thompson said.

In addition to the problems on I-94, there were numerous accidents reported on the Indiana toll road, including an overturned semi truck Wednesday morning. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries associated with those crashes.