Second subzero day for Fox Valley but some relief finally in sight
From Staff Reports January 7, 2014 9:16AM
Wind-driven snow piles up Monday afternoon near the railroad tracks in Hampshire. | Denise Moran for Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 9, 2014 6:20AM
The Fox Valley shivered through a second day of subzero temperatures Tuesday.
Local schools remained closed, some businesses also were shuttered, travel was still hazardous in some rural areas, and delays and cancellations continued to plague train and air travel.
A vehicle crash had Route 20 at Shales Parkway in Elgin closed shortly after 8 a.m., and officials were warning about black ice conditions in the area.
An Elgin woman was killed Monday night after her car went over an overpass and landed on Route 14 in Palatine. Julie Allard, 34, of the 700 block of Ripple Brook Court in Elgin, was pronounced dead. She was driving about 9:30 p.m. southbound on Route 53 — which travels above Route 14 — when the car went beyond an overpass barrier wall and landed on its roof on Route 14, state police said.
Temperatures dropped to an official overnight low of minus 11 at O’Hare International Airport — with wind chills hitting minus 33 — but spots in the Fox Valley were recording lows near minus 15.
An official 11 inches of snow remained on the ground at O’Hare, according to the National Weather Service.
The cold continued to wreak havoc on the rail system, forcing Metra to cancel dozens of trains and combine several others for a second day.
Metra’s problems began Monday, as trains were plagued by ice-coated switches. Riders experienced cancellations and nearly two-hour delays. Gas- and electric-powered thawing heaters struggled to combat ice build-up.
The area experienced some relief by early afternoon as temperatures “soared” into the low single digits and winds finally died down.
Some 1,600 O’Hare flights were canceled through 8:30 p.m. Monday, and delays averaged 90 minutes. Midway’s airlines canceled 85 flights and reported delays of up to two hours.
Temperatures will continue to slowly rise this week. Wednesday’s high is expected in the upper teens, Thursday’s high is expected in the mid-20s, and the high Friday will be in the mid-30s.
Gov. Pat Quinn issued a statewide disaster declaration Monday, which allowed him to activate the Illinois National Guard to assist state and local emergency responders with a heavy volume of calls.
Despite the record-breaking cold, area hospitals saw few cases of frostbite or hypothermia. More common were injuries related to car accidents and falls from slippery streets.
At Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, spokeswoman Tonya Luccheti-Hudson said the only weather-related patient was a 41-year-old man whose job keeps him outdoors. The man came in suffering from severe frostbite to his fingers but was released after treatment.
At Presence Saint Joseph Hospital in Elgin, spokeswoman Barbara Fallon said that “the emergency room staff has been very busy with flu and pneumonia and upper-respiratory illnesses. But they have seen no influx of weather-related cases.”
Western Kane County was among the areas hardest hit by the snow, cold and accompanying high winds of recent days.
Hampshire Police Chief Brian Thompson has seen a lot of cold winters in Hampshire over the years, but he said the last time he remembers a winter as cold as this one was in January 1982.
Over the weekend, Thompson said, “Westbound Route 72 was blocked on Friday night. Pockets of roads east of Hampshire were impassable for a time. Route 20 west of Big Timber Road was closed late Friday night due to a couple of jackknifed semi-trucks. We had to save some stranded motorists on Illinois 72 and on Widmayer Road.”
Hampshire Fire Protection District Lt. Eric Larson said the district has been staffed up from four to five in order to have extra hands if needed.
Larson’s advice to area residents: “Stay inside and don’t travel unless you have to. Make sure your vehicle has a full tank of gas. Bring extra clothes along with you.”
In response to this week’s storm, Waste Management has announced that it is delaying garbage pickup by one day in Hampshire. The village, which usually has garbage pickup on Thursday, will have its garbage pickup on Friday this week.
Village Clerk Linda Vasquez said that Hampshire’s Public Works Department has been very busy this week while dealing with the snow and the cold. “They are putting in overtime in order to keep up with it,” Vasquez said.
Hampshire resident Cheryl Warmus was born at Sherman Hospital in Elgin in 1967. While she naturally does not remember the blizzard that occurred the year she was born, she remembers the snowstorm in 1977.
“We lived in Bartlett at that time,” Warmus said. “My brother sledded off the roof of our house.”
Regarding the current severe weather, she said, “It’s rare for an Arctic freeze to dip down this far. The cold and wind are Mother Nature’s way of telling us to wake up. Nobody reads the ‘Farmer’s Almanac’ anymore, but the almanac predicted this storm.”
Pingree Grove resident Brenda Thomas moved to this area from Chicago in 1966 and remembers the snowstorm in 1967. She said this year we are having a real Chicago winter.
“We’ve had nice winters these past few years,” Thomas said. “We have become accustomed to it. We’ve been spoiled. We have to get used to having real winter again.”
Correspondent Denise Moran contributed to this report, along with Sun-Times Media reports