Snowfall keeps highway crews busy
By Matt Mikus firstname.lastname@example.org December 14, 2013 6:12PM
Tremell Sinclair works on cleaning a driveway for a relative in Highland on December 14, 2013. | Jim Karczewski\For Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 16, 2014 7:03AM
An average of five inches of snowfall covered most of Northwest Indiana from late Friday night into Saturday, slowing traffic and keeping highway crews busy into Saturday night.
The National Weather Service reported accumulated snowfall of 5.1 inches in Valparaiso, 5.8 inches in Beverly Shores, 5 inches in DeMotte, and 4.1 inches in Wheatfield.
Much of the snowfall came overnight, but by midday Saturday, the snow continued to fall.
“The bulk of the snowfall is over,” National Weather Service spokesman Casey Sullivan said Saturday afternoon. “There might be some light snow moving through the metro area of Chicago, and that would probably move in to Northwest Indiana. But we’re not expecting any additional accumulations like we saw this morning.”
Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Matt Deitchley said road crews worked in 12-hour shifts trading off to be ready for the snow, including preliminary patrols with road crews checking on state and interstate highways before the flakes began to fall.
But even with full crews working throughout the night, Deitchley hoped Northwest Indiana residents would try to remain off the roads for as long as possible.
“The snow has been falling so fast, it’s been hard for crews to keep up with it,” Deitchley said. “As of early this morning we were reporting that a lot of roads were passable, but still suggested people stay at home if they can.”
Rough conditions caused a semi-truck carrying hazardous materials to tip over, closing all northbound lanes on Interstate 65 near the Interstate 94 interchange. A speciality crew was required to clear the traffic, opening the highway back up around 4:30 p.m.
Local police departments continue to issue warnings to avoid parking on the streets, to provide space for plows to work.
Early morning business was hampered by the heavy snowfall, but Arlene Jenkins, manager at Denny’s in Merrillville, said traffic was back to normal by midday.
“It started out pretty slow in the morning, but we had a pretty good day,” Jenkins said. “Usually when it rains or snows, we get pretty busy. Sometimes that bad weather gets people to get off the highway for a while.”
More than 100 flights out of O’Hare International Airport had been cancelled as of 11 a.m., and most flights were being delayed at least 30 minutes, according to the city Department of Aviation.
The forecast for Sunday calls for a 50 percent chance of snow showers, with areas of blowing and drifting snow throughout the day. It also will be colder, with highs of 15 to 20 degrees and wind chills of zero to 10 above zero.