Cold front follows lake-effect snow

February 9, 2012 10:00:00 PM PST
The lake-effect snow machine kicked into high gear Friday in northwest Indiana. Totals could reach half a foot or more.

A lake-effect snow warning began at 3 p.m. and was set to expire Saturday morning in counties bordering the lake and Indiana. The city and suburbs were also under a winter weather advisory Friday, according to ABC7 meteorologist Jerry Taft.

"We got between an inch and an inch and a half as the cold front pushed through the area," said Taft refering to Chicago. "It's going to be a cold weekend but warming up next week."

Snow crews in northwest Indiana, which was hit the hardest, quickly cleared sidewalks and planned on doing so for several hours straight Friday night.

"It's too cold. That's why I'm using my mask and everything," said Luis Justo, Gary snow removal worker.

The snow and cold were enough to cancel classes in the area and make for dangerous driving conditions.

"A friend of mine was already in class. She text me and let me know they was canceling class," said Theresa Robinson, ITT Tech student.

"Kind of slippery. I almost slid through a red light down there," said driver Michael McCullough. "Hopefully they'll salt the roads."

In Portage, the snow-fighting fleet was out in full force. Snowplow drivers in Gary were on 12-hour shifts.

"We can't burn them out, but we're going to get the job done," said Cozey Weatherspoon, director of general services in Gary, who was also going to help in the snow removal.

Karen Freeman-Wilson, Gary's new mayor, jumped in a snow truck to see the roads first-hand. "I just want to come out see exactly how hazardous, how we're doing and whether there are things that need to be stepped up," she said.

Remarkably, some enjoyed the blustery conditions.

"This is common weather," said motorist Pierre Barnes. "We haven't had weather like this all winter long. I love it. I love it."

Snow trucks clear Chicago streets

As lake effect snow increased in the area, Chicago's Streets & Sanitation Department increased the number of plows - 183 in total, half the fleet - on main routes and Lake Shore Drive. Attention will turn to side streets once the main thoroughfares are in better shape.

Areas closest to the lake could see the most snow.

The snow slowed the commute of many drivers in the city and suburbs Friday evening, although it didn't stick much on the Kennedy and other expressways. The Illinois Tollway's snow operation center mobilized its full fleet in the metropolitan area.

Slick conditions apparently caused a van to rollover in Fox Lake. The driver of the Direct TV truck was not hurt in the accident.

The fast-moving snow also caused troubles at Chicago's airports. More than 300 flights were canceled Friday at O'Hare Airport. There might be a back up Saturday. Travelers should check with their airlines.

Chicagoans not bothered by light snow

Light snow began falling Friday afternoon, but it didn't seem to faze the Chicagoans ABC7 spoke with.

"I don't know how bad it is going to get. Hopefully not too bad," said Tian Shuai.

"I was neutral about it. I figure it is to be expected. It is February and we haven't gotten much. So it's that time of year," said Christina Smerz.

Some commuters left work a bit early to avoid a messy Friday afternoon commute.

Commuter Alan Macon hoped to have an easy commute by train. "I'm not a fan," he said. "I think we have been fortunate enough have taken this long to get some snow so it was bound to happen. We live here in Chicago."

The South Loop Home Depot was as stocked for snow as it is for spring. Christopher Zepeda was in snow removal mode as he prepared for a long night of clearing snowing around his building.

"I'm just buying salt and extension cords and making sure I'm not out there as long, trying to get in and out so I can get back inside where it is warm and not worry about the headache," said Zepeda.

Some tips for driving in snow:
- Clean your windshield and lights for better visibility. Other drives can see your vehicle more clearly as well.
- Don't drive too closely to snow plows and salt trucks.
- Decrease your speed and leave plenty of room in front of your vehicle in case you need to brake.
- Drive carefully on bridges and overpasses. They can be very slippery from the snow and can freeze faster than heavily travelled streets and expressways.

The heaviest snow is expected over northern Indiana, with the most falling during the evening hours and overnight.