Region still digging out from storm
BY CHRISTIN NANCE LAZERUS email@example.com January 22, 2014 7:56PM
Audrey Bergman 5, helps her mother Cristin Bergman clear their driveway of snow in St. John, In., as northwest Indiana got hit by heavy lake effect snow on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. | John Smierciak/For Sun-Times Media
Griffith Public Schools are still closed and Lake Ridge is open, but that may change due to unpredictable conditions.
Area schools on two-hour delay Thursday as of press time:
Crown Point schools
Eagle Park Community School/NISEC
Merrillville High School
St. Patrick School, Chesterton: no morning preschool and no morning extended care
Updated: February 24, 2014 1:11PM
Roads were still snow-packed with slick spots on Wednesday as Northwest Indiana continued to dig out of Tuesday’s lake-effect snowstorm.
INDOT spokesman Matt Deitchley said crews were having an easier time clearing roads with salt and chemical deicer since the snow subsided. Snowfall rates of more than 3 inches per hour had jammed the Borman Expressway with slow-moving traffic from Central Avenue to Kennedy Avenue on Tuesday.
“This morning, the Indiana State Police escorted five plows wide this morning on the Borman Expressway,” Deitchley said. “Yesterday, the snow came down so fast, so hard, we couldn’t get on the road to clear it. On the bright side, it was very focused so we were able to send LaPorte crews west to help.”
Roads could stay slick as temperatures descend into the single digits over the next few days. Deitchley said deicers are less effective below 8 degrees.
The storm hit hardest in Lake County, with Gary, Griffith and Highland receiving 18 to 14 inches of snow.
Gary got some help in clearing that snow. Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson thanked Portage Mayor James Snyder for assistance in plowing some Miller residential streets, just west of Portage.
“The mayor sent me a text offering to help,” Freeman-Wilson said. “That’s the kind of guy James Snyder is. I’m very grateful.”
Tuesday’s fickle lake-effect snow dropped about 18 inches on Gary, while nearby Porter County escaped with minimal snowfall. “He knows we have less equipment than they have and for something this big, he just offered.”
Freeman-Wilson said city crews plowed side streets Wednesday. “The main streets are wide open, and we’re continuing around the clock on side streets,” she said.
Snyder said Portage got lucky, with only about 2 inches of snow, but many city residents go west toward Gary to get to work.
“We have the resources. We just need to coordinate them,” Snyder said.
Snyder said he had no problems with the Indiana Department of Transportation’s efforts to clear major roads and compared Tuesday’s storms to the 500-year storm from this summer.
“You prepare for the worst, but at the same time, we haven’t seen this for 20 years or so,” he said.
Indiana State Police Sgt. Ann Wojas said some motorists had been stranded on the ramps leading to Grant and Burr streets to avoid the giant backup on the Borman, but there were few crashes.
“It was a huge parking lot,” Wojas said. “It was sunny here at the police post and devastation there. I’ve never seen a weather event like that.”
Don Terpstra, owner of Terpstra’s Sales, Service and Rentals in Griffith, said snowblower sales are brisk.
“If it’s before Christmas, a big forecast brings in lot of business,” Terpstra said. “If it’s after Christmas, the only thing that brings them in is snow. We tend to pick up in sales when the big box stores run out, so I doubt the big boxes still have them.
“This year the two major snowstorms have reminded people winter happens in Northwest Indiana.”
Terpstra said even manufacturers are adjusting for the sales spike.
“Toro is actually out of snowthrowers, and a few weeks ago they actually retooled some of their lawnmower assembly lines to keep up with the demand,” Terpstra said. “But eventually they are going to come to an end because they have to start making products for summer.”
Post-Tribune reporter Carole Carlson and correspondents James D. Wolf Jr. and Michelle L. Quinn contributed.