Storm shuts down NWI: Interstates 94 and 65 closed; South Shore service canceled Monday
By Christin Nance Lazerus and Post-Tribune Staff email@example.com January 5, 2014 11:50AM
Jamey Costino of Munster blows snow from his driveway in Munster, IN on Sunday January 5, 2014. | Jim Karczewski\for Sun-Times Media
For a list of closings, visit
Updated: January 6, 2014 8:16AM
The Indiana Department of Transportation has closed Interstate 94, both eastbound and westbound, between the Illinois state line and the U.S. 421 exit at Michigan City, and Interstate 65, both northbound and southbound, between U.S. 12/20 in Gary and mile marker 172 in Lafayette.
Meanwhile, the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District has cancelled all service for Monday.
“The interstates are closed to all traffic due to severe winter weather that has made some areas and ramps impassable,” INDOT announced. “There is no timeframe for when these roadways will reopen.”
A full call-out of INDOT plow crews remain on the roads, INDOT said, but conditions are so severe that crews cannot stay ahead of the storm.
“Very little has changed on the roads in the overnight hours,” INDOT stated early Monday. “Conditions are still extremely hazardous on all roads across the Northwest Indiana District. Expect heavy snow, blowing and drifting snow, and sub zero temperatures. This is a dangerous situation and all are advised to stay home until roadways can be safely cleared.”
Meanwhile, the National Weather Service is warning of wind chills of 30 degrees below zero through midday Tuesday, with periods of 40 to 50 below zero Monday afternoon and early Tuesday morning. The forecast windchills are the lowest in nearly 20 years, according to the service.
Lake and Porter county governments have declared states of emergency on roads and have told residents to stay where they are.
“Obviously we’re experiencing very, very hazardous roads, particularly on the east-west county roads,” said Sgt. Larry LaFlower of the Porter County Sheriff’s Police. “As the day has gone on, the snow and wind have picked up and we’ve had lots of problems. Everybody just needs to stay home; we’re barely getting around in our 4x4 and all-wheel-drive vehicles as it is.”
According to the Lake County sheriff’s office, “only emergency vehicles, law enforcement, medical and highway department vehicles are to be on the roads.”
Jasper County has also announced a state of emergency.
The snow, wind and sinking temperatures have challenged motorists and homeowners Sunday during an intense bout of winter weather that one meteorologist said will turn Chicago into “ChiBeria.”
A winter storm warning remains in effect until midnight in Lake, Porter, Newton and Jasper counties, and a blizzard warning is in effect in LaPorte County until 6 a.m. Monday.
A press release from the Indiana State Police said troopers responded to 84 emergency calls between 7 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. Sunday. Calls, continuing through daytime Sunday, consisted of assisting motorists, slide-offs, property damage and personal injury crashes, the release said.
As the wind speed increased and snow continued into the night, before an anticipated arctic blast that will drive wind chills into the minus 50-degree range through Tuesday morning, local schools are canceling classes for at least Monday. Purdue University Calumet, Indiana University Northwest, Valparaiso University and Calumet College of St. Joseph have also announced they are closed Monday.
In Porter County, all government offices will be closed due to the cold.
The Lake County Government Center and all Lake County Government satellite buildings including the courts will be closed Monday due to hazardous weather conditions.
Commission President Michael Repay, D-Hammond, said the decision was made Sunday morning after consulting with the highway department, emergency management and the courts.
“It doesn’t make sense to have them open and have all those people on the road that don’t really need to be,” Repay said.
Highway Department Superintendent Marcus Malczewski said computer modeling shows the snow continuing through 9 p.m. Sunday night which will make it difficult for snow plows to clear the roads in time for the morning commute if they are being traveled by motorists, Repay said.
Essential services including the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, highway department and emergency management will remain staffed and operational.
In Crown Point, Monday’s City Council meeting has been postponed and government departments will be closed due to the hazardous weather conditions and forecast.
Temperatures could drop to 15 to 20 degrees below zero Sunday evening, with a winter storm warning in effect until 6 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.
Mark Price, director of the Illiana Search and Rescue Team, said in a press release that the Lake County Sheriff John Buncich has requested that all teams remain on standby until 8 p.m. Sunday due to the potential of significant snowfall.
Meanwhile a wind chill warning will be in effect from 6 p.m. Sunday until noon Tuesday, according to the weather service. With wind gusts of up to 35 miles an hour forecast, that could drop the windchill factor to minus-40 to 50 degrees on Monday, said National weather service meteorologist Richard Castro, who melded Chicago and Siberia to come up with ChiBeria to describe the arctic chill.
It’s expected to be the Chicago area’s coldest weather in nearly 20 years and could break records, the weather service said.
The City of Gary will be sending out city personnel and social service volunteers will to identify individuals who may be homeless, spokesperson Chelsea Whittington said Sunday.
The city also announced it will tow vehicles parked areas marked for no-parking during severe weather throughout the city. Residents are asked to be observant of signs and move their vehicles to avoid being towed.
Additionally, the Public Safety Building, 555 Polk St., and the Calumet Township Multipurpose Center, 1900 W. 41st Ave., will be open as 24-hour warming centers; while the Hudson-Campbell Fitness Center, 455 Massachusetts, will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday; the Genesis Convention Center, 5th and Broadway, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday; and the Salvation Army, 4800 Harrison St., from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday.
Hammond City Hall is closed Monday, including City Court. Those with cases set for Monday will be contacted tp reschedule. The mayor’s office (853-6302) will be open to field emergency calls or problems related to the storm.
Methodist Hospitals announced Sunday evening that it is canceling all elective procedures and outpatient services on Monday. The cancellations include elective surgeries, outpatient procedures, outpatient rehabilitation, cardiac rehabilitation, outpatient diagnostics and laboratory tests.
Methodist Physician Group offices will also be closed. For emergencies, patients should call 911, the hospital said. Additionally, all support groups, classes, seminars and screenings scheduled for Monday have been canceled.
Franciscan Alliance announced the closure of its satellite offices throughout northern Indiana on Monday.
Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, cancelled five community forums scheduled for Hobart, Lake Station, Gary, East Chicago and Merrillville due to the weather.
As of 7:50 a.m. Sunday, nearly 1,200 flights had been canceled at O’Hare International Airport, and all flights were experiencing minor delays as crew worked to de-ice planes and runways, according to the city’s Department of Aviation.
At least 60 flights were cancelled at Midway Airport, but most other flights were still on time, the department said.