Smack! That Storm Hurt

Snow and ice pellets pummel Chicago area

It comes every year. But it doesn't make it hurt any less.

The winter storm that smacked Illinois with a mixture of sleet and snow overnight exited rather quietly Friday,leaving behind work crews trying to restore power to thousands, clear roads and get trains and planes running on time again.
"It could have been a lot worse," said Carmen Iacullo of the Illinois Department of Transportation. "Our expressways should be in good shape (but) people still need to be careful."

Traffic Map | Current Travel Times The storm left as much as 10 inches in the northern end of the state, about two inches in Chicago and as much as three inches in the western suburbs. In much of the rest of the state, the story was rain, freezing rain and fog.

But that created its own problems, as ice collected on power lines, weighing them down and ultimately snapping some. In central Illinois, Ameren Illinois Utilities was working Friday afternoon to restore power to 35,000 customers, most of those in the area from Macomb to Peoria, Bloomington, Lincoln and into Champaign.

If the weather didn't deteriorate too much -- and things looked pretty good at least in the short term, according to the National Weather Service -- Ameren expected to restore power to all their customers by Saturday evening.

"The problem is the wind is starting to pick up and that is causing additional damage," said Ameren spokesman Leigh Morris. "When the wind picks up, power lines start moving violently and with all that weight from the ice they can start breaking down."

Friday's morning commute was slow in some areas, but in Chicago, it was far better than Tuesday night when people heading home found themselves trapped on the snowy expressways for three and even four hours.

The afternoon commute looked like it might be easier "now that the winter wonderland is beginning to dissipate a little bit," said Illinois Department of Transportation spokeswoman Marisa Kollias.

The state police, while saying a number of car accidents and vehicles running off the roadways around the state, said there were no reports that any of the accidents caused major injuries.

Still, there were problems, like in suburban Chicago, where frozen tracks and power lines caused commuter train delays of up to an hour and the cancellation of some trains altogether, Metra officials said.
For Patricia Singleton, it all conspired to turn a 40-minute commute from her home in the Chicago suburb of South Holland to her downtown Chicago office into a two-hour trip that started with her driving to a nearby community and a bus trip the rest of the way.
"I'm going to leave town as soon as I'm able. I can't continue to do winter in Chicago," said Singleton, 50.
"We expected this, so I prepared and left early," Singleton said. "But I've had enough. My husband is retiring in three years and I told him we've got to move south."
Reggie Sudds, a letter carrier at the downtown U.S. Post Office, normally drives to his train, but on Friday rode a Chicago Transit Authority bus to the station.
"Let CTA do the worrying," said Sudds, 55.
The news was a bit better for travelers flying in and out of Chicago's two major airports. After Thursday, when a total of 300 flights were canceled at O'Hare International Airport, city aviation officials said there were about 250 cancellations on Friday, with several flights delayed 30-60 minutes. Across town at Midway International Airport, officials reported a couple dozen cancellations.


Copyright AP - Associated Press
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