Chicago Weather: Cold temps settle in as snow, ice blanket NW Indiana, SW Michigan

November 12, 2013 (LAPORTE, Ind.)

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"I love shoveling snow. I've been doing it since I was ten years old. It will either keep you alive or kill ya, and I'm still standing. Sixty-five years old," said Ron Zimmer.

It's hard to believe it's already that time of year. Up to eight inches of snow fell in La Porte overnight and into Tuesday. Like most northwest Indiana communities, folks here are used to getting clobbered by lake effect snow year after year, though this time it is a bit early. Even while still focused on leaf removal, La Porte's Streets Department was ready to go as soon as the snow started.

"I got up and checked the roads at 2:30 this morning, the roads were covered and started calling people out between 2:30 and 3am. I got a total of nine trucks out," said Mike Fraze, La Porte Streets Department.

By Tuesday afternoon local roads were clear and dry, early morning driving proved treacherous.

"I was on my way to work this morning, hit a patch of black ice and they had to fish me out of a 10-foot ditch. I swear it's the only 10-foot ditch in Indiana," said Natalie Turner.

"This morning we probably passed a half dozen cars that were spun out and a few accidents. We just took it slow," said Jeff Jania, commuter.

The early snowfall also resulted in a snow day for some. Six-year-old identical twins Sofia and Reggie and their cousin Yaneli were taking full advantage of the day off.

By noon, more than a foot of snow had already fallen to the ground in some areas, thanks to the lake effect.

Among the areas hardest hit is New Buffalo, Mich., where near white-out conditions greeted early morning travelers with some locations seeing up to 14 inches of accumulation, according to ABC7 Eyewitness News meteorologist Phil Schwarz. Schwarz also said lake effect snow tends to fall in waves, with some heavy periods and some lulls.

Driving conditions in the New Buffalo area were treacherous as the flakes came down heavily, at some points, at the rate of about 1 inch per hour.

Some drivers told Eyewitness News that the roads were perilous all around.

"We encountered a couple of accidents on the interstate and had to do some detours, but we're marching on," said Cynthia Hassenger.

"Twenty-four miles an hour for the last two hours. We are coming from kalamazoo and it was fine there, but as soon as we got towards the lake shore, it got worse. And we are heading to Chicago and hoping it gets better there," Peggy Dorgan said.

Conditions in Chicago were better Tuesday. Most of the snow is gone, leaving behind frigid air, but drivers are still advised to watch out for slick roads.

In Chicago, some bicyclists struggled to keep their wheels on the pavement. Patches of black ice formed along the Lakefront path near the Oak Street curve Tuesday morning, sending dozens of cyclists tumbling.

At least one person had to be hospitalized. The bike path was shut down through that area because of the conditions.

In Northwest Indiana, several inches of lake effect snow coated the ground Tuesday afternoon in Michigan City, and flakes continued flying through the air. Up to 7 inches of snow was forecast to fall in that area by Tuesday night.

With the temperature dropping, the roads were getting messy quickly. The Indiana Department of Transportation said all of its snowplows and salt trucks had been deployed. There were 38 of them in Michigan City.

Approximately 10 miles south, in La Porte, Ind., some estimates were that 4 inches of snow had fallen before the sun rose.

" It's a little earlier than I'd like. I know, the past few years, a couple times in November, maybe we'd go to the beach. It's a little too early for me," driver Danny Grenough said.

Indiana snow was expected to end Tuesday evening, ABC7 Eyewitness News meteorologist Tracy Butler said. According to the National Weather Service, La Porte and St. Joseph Counties were under a Lake Effect Snow Warning until 7 p.m. Tuesday. Porter County also was under a Lake Effect Snow Advisory until 7 p.m. Tuesday.

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