Southland deals with another messy snowfall
BY HANNAH LUTZ Sun-Times Media February 17, 2014 4:12PM
Tinley Park police direct traffic through the intersection of 179th and LaGrange on Monday, Feb. 17, 2014. | Donna Vickroy~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 18, 2014 9:29AM
As if Mondays aren’t bad enough, Southland residents struggled through another snowstorm, with commuters enduring a messy, lengthy trip home and not at all impressed that Monday’s storm pushed this winter into the area’s Top 5 all-time in snowfall.
Quick-falling, thick snow reduced visibility to as little as an eighth of a mile in some areas and turned roadways slushy and slick.
At 8 p.m., with the storm having moved east, O’Hare International Airport, the Chicago area’s official weather station, recorded 5.5 inches of snow, bringing the season’s total to 67.6 inches. That pushed this season past the winter of 1951-52 for the fifth snowiest on record, according to the National Weather Service. Midway airport got 5.4 inches on Monday.
The next target: the winter of 1966-67 and its 68.4 inches. More than 80 inches fell by mid-February during the record snowiest winter of 1978-79.
More than 770 flights were canceled at O’Hare and another 270 were scratched at Midway as snow fell heavily for much of the afternoon.
Road conditions in Will County were “terrible,” sheriff’s police said Lt. Steve Talmontas said, adding that traffic on portions of Interstate 80 was creeping along in near white-out conditions during the heaviest snowfall Monday afternoon.
“Our plows are out there trying to fight the snow,” Talmontas said. “We have accidents all over the place, but nothing serious.”
Oak Lawn public works Supt. Steve Barrett said streets were “pretty bad” leading into Monday’s evening rush hour.
“It’s coming down hard and fast. We will have a full staff working through the night,” he said. “We’re trying to stay on top of it.”
Fortunately, both he and Oak Lawn police reported no accidents.
“I’m looking forward to the warmer weather. I was fed up with winter about a month ago,” Barrett said. “We have not had a weekend off since before Christmas. It wears on you.”
Most public schools were closed because of the Presidents Day holiday, but some private schools let out early and many events Monday night were canceled, including a state hearing in Tinley Park on gambling expansion. Governors State University closed at 2 p.m.
And many students welcomed the new snow on their day off. Liam Yore, 15, spent part of the afternoon digging a tunnel in the massive snow bank in front of his Tinley Park home.
“It’s for a fort,” he said. When asked if he was cold, he said, “No, why?”
But adults did not view the storm so charitably.
Donna Robbins, 49, of New Lenox, said she’s “extremely tired of the snow” and worried about the coming thaw (it is coming, right?).
“The ground is so frozen that I don’t think whatever thaws will be absorbed into the ground and we’ll just have a huge mess,” she said.
Ramie Wiltgen, of New Lenox, shared that concern. She was shoveling out her long driveway, hoping to clear a spot for her husband to park. He was estimating a three-hour commute Monday night from his job in Evanston, she said.
“I don’t ever remember snow like this. You can’t even lift it. It’s ‘heart attack snow,’ ” Wiltgen said. “I’m worried about it all melting. Where will it go?”
We’ll start to find out the rest of this week, with temperatures through Thursday forecast at or above the normal high of 35 this time of year, maybe reaching 47 on Thursday. But with no rain expected, there should be a manageable melting situation, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Jamie Enderlen.
Also, another cold snap is on the way next week, as temperatures are predicted to fall back into the low 20s as of Sunday, reducing concerns about an overly quick thaw.
Contributing: Donna Vickroy, Susan DeMar Lafferty, Mike Nolan and Jaime Angio.