Heavy fog blamed for I-57 pileup
By Tina Sfondeles Sun-Times Media February 20, 2014 10:10PM
A frontloader moves mounds of snow from the center of Manhattan to help reduce flooding Thursday. | Erin Gallagher~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 21, 2014 2:20AM
Dense fog caused a pileup involving about 20 vehicles that shut down Interstate 57 near Peotone for about five hours Thursday night as bad weather continued to plague the Chicago area.
The chain-reaction crash involved seven semi trucks and at least 12 other vehicles in the northbound lanes about 4:30 p.m. near Wilmington-Peotone Road, and about 10 people were transported area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries, Illinois State Police said.
At least one of the trucks caught fire after the crash, and one vehicle had to be extricated from beneath a semi by firefighters at the scene, state police reported.
They said the northbound and southland lanes of I-57 were shut down between Wilmington-Peotone and Manhattan-Monee roads, and the one southbound lane reopened about 8 p.m. All southbound lanes and the inner northbound lane reopened about 9:30 p.m., according to state police.
The heavy fog also halted all flights at Midway Airport for about 90 minutes in the late afternoon, according to the Chicago Aviation Department. Airlines there canceled 185 flights Thursday, 170 of which were on Southwest Airlines, which called off all of its flights from about 4 to 6 p.m., the department reported. It said about 420 flights were canceled at O’Hare International Airport.
A line of storms mixed with strong winds swept into the Chicago area Thursday evening, pushing out the fog but lowering temperatures from the upper 40s to the 20s overnight.
The same storm system spawned a few tornadoes in central Illinois and caused a blizzard in Iowa, heavy snow in Minnesota and severe thunderstorms in Kentucky and Tennessee, according to the National Weather Service meteorologist Richard Castro said.
“This particular storm could be one of the strongest storms to affect the region in February, in terms of how low the pressure gets at the center,” Castro said. “It’s a pretty impressive storm.
A flood watch, triggered by morning rain, expired mid-afternon Thursday as rain continued melting mounds of snow in several counties. Flooding is still possible near the Kankakee River, the Little Calumet River in Munster, Ind., and the DuPage River near the Bolingbrook-Naperville border.
“Our brief fling with spring will be over,” Castro said. “Cold weather is back, and it looks like it’s here to stay for a while. Highs in the lower 20s and teens are expected next week. ... It will be very, very, very cold for this time of year.”
Friday will bring winds gusts of 40 to 50 mph, wind chills in the teens and a highs expected in the mid 30s. A possible dusting of snow could fall overnight.
Sun-Times Media Wire