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'Treacherous' driving conditions impact travel

Indiana and Illinois State Police after warning motorists to drive cautiously or even rethink your trip because of hazardous roads this afternoon across the region.

A winter storm warning was issued at 3:17 p.m. for Will, Kendall, and Grundy counties after a prediction of an additional one to two inches of snow and winds increasing to 25-30 miles per hour, gusting up to 50 miles per hour, state police said in a release.

Conditions are expected to “rapidly deteriorate’’ beginning at about 6 p.m., with blizzard-like conditions possible because of the blowing snow and motorists are being urged to stay at home.

Travel conditions are expected to remain hazardous through Tuesday.

In the Lowell, Ind. area, drivers should be aware of potentially hazardous conditions on I-80/94 and I- 65 -- specifically on I-65 into Lafayette and I-65 and on I-80/94 from Burr Street to Kennedy Avenue are experiencing numerous  slide offs, spin outs, jack knifes, and crashes, Indiana State Police said in a statement.

Semis and four wheel drive vehicles are not exempt from these crashes, a large or heavy vehicle or four wheel drive capability does not keep the driver from being affected, the statement said.

Hazardous road conditions are being reported throughout the Lafayette area on I-65 also.

Throughout the early morning hours new snow has fallen, add wind and sub zero temperatures this has made icing and black ice on a large portion of the roadways, especially on bridges and ramps.

INDOT crews have been spreading salt and abrasives and state police are imploring all drivers to rethink their trip.

Use alternate routes, expect long delays and slow down.  Remember to move over and slow down for  emergency lights and plows, state police advised.

Meanwhile, in Will, Grundy, and Kendall counties in Illinois are experiencing blowing and drifting snow causing hazardous road conditions and areas of zero visibility, according to another state police release.

Major areas of concern include I-57 in Will County and I-55 south of I-80 while additional areas of concern include IL Rt. 47, IL Rt. 17, and all secondary roadways bordered by open areas where blowing and drifting snow are normally a problem, the statement said.

Due to the excessively low temperatures and heavy winds, causing snow drifts across the roadways, several vehicles are losing control and crashes are occurring.   

Interstate 57 is experiencing drifting and blowing snow throughout Kankakee, Iroquois and Ford Counties.  Secondary roads are also snow experiencing drifting and blowing snow.  Visibility on all roadways is limited due to the blowing snow, the statement said.

Illinois State Police authorities are asking drivers to monitor changing weather conditions, limit their travels, and be prepared to allow plenty of time to reach your destination.  Drivers are also encouraged to put extra water, food, and warm clothing their vehicle. Please contact your nearest police department if you vehicle becomes disabled or involved in a crash.          

A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect until at least 6 a.m. Monday.

Snow began falling about 3 a.m. Sunday at O'Hare International Airport, according to the National Weather Service. Soon after that, state police began responding to a large volume of crashes and spinouts on local expressways.

Hours later, it remained "treacherous out there," Sgt. George Jimenez of the Illinois State Police said.

"We still have snow-covered expressways," Jimenez said about 5:30 a.m. "They're still slick."

Crews from the Illinois Department of Transportation are "working diligently" to improve conditions, but continuing snow is making the job difficult, he said.

"The whole expressway system is being hit hard," he said.

Some of the crashes this morning caused injuries, but none were believed to be serious, Jimenez said.

As of 3:30 p.m. today, the weather was responsible for more than 250 flight cancellations at O'Hare International Airport and more than 90 flight cancellations at Midway International Airport, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation.

On roads patrolled by the city, Chicago's Department of Streets and Sanitation sent out 200 snow plows and salt spreaders. The snow crews are focusing on main roads and will shift to clearing side streets afterward.

The weather is also hitting roads in the north suburbs, where a woman was taken to a hospital this  morning after she lost control of a car she was driving on a snowy Gurnee road and she plunged 25 feet landing on its roof.

“She was pretty lucky,’’ said Gurnee police Cmdr. Jay Patrick.”It could have been a lot worse.’’

It was about 10 a.m. when the woman was trying to pass someone while traveling on Illinois 21, Patrick said.  

“She lost control of the vehicle and it ended up going over the side of the bridge and landed in the westbound lanes of Route 121,’’ Patrick said.

The woman, who was the sole occupant sin the car, was taken to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville injuries including a fractured leg, Patrick said.

The crash was weather-related as the guard rail was likely covered with piled-up snow and the rail rendered ineffective, Patrick said.

Before traveling go to gettingaroundillinois.com for up-to-the-date driving conditions.

 

chicagobreaking@tribune.com | Twitter: @ChicagoBreaking

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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