Chicago weather: Lake-effect snow hammers NW Indiana, some areas surpass 3 feet accumulation

Driving conditions remain dangerous across LaPorte County

ByChristian Piekos, Evelyn Holmes, Stephanie Wade, and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Saturday, January 20, 2024
Parts of NW Indiana buried in 3 feet of snow as plows try to keep up
A snow emergency declarationin Michigan City ended Saturday afternoon, residents were urged to stay indoors Saturday night as roads were being cleared.

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. (WLS) -- Our coverage of this story has moved here.

Snow kept falling in Northwest Indiana Saturday with some parts already buried under more than three feet of lake-effect snow.

The first round of snow moved into the Chicago area Thursday night and Friday morning.

A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for LaPorte County until 9 p.m. Saturday with 1-to-3 inches of snow possible. A Winter Storm Warning was in effect for Porter County until 9 a.m. Saturday with 6-plus inches of snow possible because of a lake-effect snow band.

A Winter Weather Advisory was in effect for Lake County until 9 a.m. on Saturday with 3-to-4 inches possible from a lake-effect snow band that set up over Lake Michigan.

A Wind Chill Advisory will be in effect for Chicago's western suburbs from midnight through 10 a.m. Sunday.

Wind chills of -15 to -25 degrees will be possible Sunday in parts of the Chicago area, ABC7 Meteorologist Mark McGinnis said.

Snow totals in LaPorte County

Trail Creek - 36 inches

Michigan City - 35 inches

Pinola - 32 inches

Springville - 30.5 inches

La Porte - 28 inches

Waterford - 27 inches

Kingsford Heights - 25 inches

Wind chills of -15 to -25 degrees will be possible Sunday in parts of the Chicago area, ABC7 Meteorologist Mark McGinnis said.

A snow emergency the Michigan City Mayor Angie Nelson Deutch declared on Friday ended Saturday afternoon, but she urged residents to stay indoors Saturday night as roads will continue to be cleared overnight.

Residents of Michigan City can leave can call 219-873-1500 and leave a voicemail for any snow emergency.

Indiana State Police urged drivers to stay off eastbound I-94 in LaPorte until 4 p.m. Saturday.

Running on utter exhaustion, snow plower Dave Westphal was working through the night to plow snow for residents and businesses.

"I've been out three days with no sleep," Westphal said. "I'm at people's beck and call because number one they have to get out. I cater to the elderly."

Michigan City was hit with another 6 inches of snowfall from Friday to Saturday morning, bringing the total accumulation to more than 3 feet since the winter storm arrived late Thursday.

"Public safety is of paramount concern during this snow event," Mayor Angie Nelson Deuitch said. "We ask everyone to stay off the roads, if you can avoid it, until the emergency status has been liked. We will continue to monitor the weather and reassess throughout the day; but until we make that call, we've got crews out working to clear the streets."

Bus service and trash pickup was suspended Saturday due to the storm. Refuse Department trucks will instead be used to assist the Streets Department's snow removal efforts, according to officials.

Michigan City couple Michelle and Aaron Lindsey posted on Facebook Friday night they had a snowblower, and many neighbors started to reach out for help.

"People were asking us to clear out the parking spot in front of their house, they're just getting off work," Michelle Lindsey said. "They saw us doing someone else's house, so we just kind of kept going from there. That was from 7 or 8 at night, and then we started up again today, because people were calling once they saw the post on Facebook. So we've been out since 7 in the morning."

Cars all across town were completely buried.

A lake-effect band began forming Friday morning, dropping as much as 2-to-3 inches of snow per hour during the day. While there was a break by midday, by Friday night the band was re-forming and bringing even more accumulation to the snow-battered area.

On a blustery and frigid Saturday morning in Michigan Cityan arctic snowscape has brought the tiny city to a near halt...all except for the LakeShore Cafe.

Michigan City was desolate and unforgiving Friday night and Saturday morning, but one lone business braved the elements to open up shop.

"I was not expecting all this snow," LakeShore Cafe manager Gabriella Retseck said. "I was not expecting to shovel myself out this morning."

On a blustery and frigid morning, an arctic snowscape has brought the tiny city to a near halt all except for the LakeShore Cafe on Wabash Street, opening its door for its customers when few shops in town could.

The snow storm has negatively affected businesses in the area due to less foot traffic amid travel restrictions.

"It affected us pretty bad," Retseck said. "I counted, we only had 25 transactions yesterday. That was not a normal day whatsoever."

Retseck worked solo to keep the coffee brewing amidst the multiple feet of snow that had fallen outside. Customers at the café were grateful.

"It's just kind of a vibe on a Saturday morning, just to come here, my journal, do some work," customer Jay Ollero said. "It's nice to not be stuck in a room and to be able to come out have some normalcy when there's so much inconvenience and disruption."

Lake-effect snow continues to fall in Northwest Indiana creating treacherous road conditions.

Indiana Department of Transportation snow plows worked to clear shoulders and treat roads on Interstate 80-94 near Lake Station, even as the wind undid much of that work.

"The plowers I'm sure are having a hard time, you know. Once they do something, it's like they turn around, and they have to do it again," said driver Alex Chavez.

Warming centers open as temperatures drop

Chicago has activated its warming centers at locations across the city as dangerous wind chill temperatures return to the area this week.

Chicago has activated its warming centers.

The centers open when temperatures are 32 degrees. They are available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Warming centers in Cook County will be open 24/7 through next Monday.

Warming centers in other Chicago-area counties:

On the Dan Ryan Expressway Saturday, a semi-truck tractor trailer jackknifed, with a CPD squad car hitting it, Illinois State Police said. Two officers in the squad car were transported to a hospital with minor injuries, ISP said.

In west suburban Riverside, Bourbon the Bernese mountain dog gave the fresh coat of snow a paws up while supervising the shoveling duties.

"We love it," Riverside resident Andre Ciszwski said. "Just wake up. He wants to go walk and he's going to help me out now and we will take a little walk then we're gonna finish the work we started."

Several inches of snow fell in the western suburbs overnight, making the roads treacherous despite the best efforts of snow plow drivers.

Meanwhile, the Des Plaines River is covered with snow and ice. The temperature hovered at around 10 degrees all morning with subzero wind chills.

RELATED: How to stay warm in layered clothing and avoid frostbite this winter

Michigan City resident Adrieanne Vanwinkle tells ABC7 she's snowed-in at home after a failed to attempt to dig out.

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