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Chicago Weather Alert: Blizzard-Like Conditions Make For Treacherous Roads In Northwest Indiana, South Suburbs

By Marissa Perlman and Sabrina Franza

CROWN POINT, Ind. (CBS) -- Northwest Indiana saw blizzard conditions all afternoon Thursday as a heavy snowstorm pounded the Chicago area.

As CBS 2's Marissa Perlman reported, wind and whipping snow were all around near Crown Point around 4 p.m. The snow fell quickly, and really stuck to the roads – as visibility got worse with each half hour.

During the evening rush, the wind in Northwest Indiana was blasting at more than 20 mph as the snow fell quickly.

In a residential just off Cline Avenue in Crown Point, a lot of people were staying off the roads through the afternoon – though traffic went on moving.

The dangers were evident by the afternoon rush. Just off Main Street in Crown Point, we saw a car stalled right into a ditch, with its driver getting help from local police.

The snowstorm began to move into Crown Point just after noon. In what felt like minutes, inches of snow started to pile up in downtown Crown Point.

Even in the early afternoon, drivers had to navigate an already-dangerous commute.

Businesses of Main Street told us they closed early on Thursday in anticipation of the weather – and poor visibility.

Meanwhile, 11 schools across Lake County, Indiana were all back to distance learning Thursday, or else closed altogether.
Avery Petit of Crown Point said she was not exactly surprised by another snowstorm.

"I'm definitely ready for spring, but I think I was expecting a few more snowstorms," she said. "I think I'll just stay home so I don't have any driving mishaps, so I can just keep everyone safe."

But for some, a winter blast this severe was a surprise.

"Twenty years ago, we saw this a lot – there was feet of snow and huge drifts. Lately, we haven't been getting that. The last 10 years, we just don't get it," said Rick Cannon of Crown Point. "The snow is pretty, but it's kind of ugly when it's like this."

Indeed, Cannon was not pleased with the winter storm at all.

"We don't like this weather very much. We slip and fall and break our hops, and we slide into our cars – which we don't like," he said.

Law enforcement is likewise encouraging everyone to stay off the roads in Northwest Indiana – with poor visibility, more snow, and blizzard-like conditions.

Visibility was also dangerously low on Thursday afternoon in the south suburbs. As CBS 2's Sabrina Franza reported, it was like a sideways snow globe near Lincoln Highway in Matteson as the afternoon rush began.

Precautions were necessary while driving, in the event that a car skidded to the side or through a red light.

Initially, plows were seen in the area spreading salt, though due to the relatively light accumulation, major clearing was not necessary late Thursday afternoon. But the snow picked up rapidly as the afternoon turned into the evening, and began to pile up. A gas station in Richton Park was a ghost town early Thursday evening, with few drivers on the roads.

Maria Castaneda of the Illinois Department of Transportation warned during the evening rush that anyone who hit the roads would be in for a messy commute. She advised that the blowing wind was causing near-whiteout conditions in parts of the area.

Castaneda also warned that slick spots will abound as the temperature drops – especially on bridges and overpasses. She said IDOT trucks are out there, but will be stuck in traffic like everyone else – and IDOT plows should be given room.

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