CHICAGO (AP) — A late winter storm packing up to 10 inches
of snow sent officials in weather-hardened Chicago into action Tuesday to
prevent a repeat of scenes from two years ago, when hundreds of people in
cars and buses were stranded on the city's marquee thoroughfare during a
The storm was
part of a system that started in in Montana, hit the Dakotas and Minnesota
on Monday and then barreled through Wisconsin and Illinois on its way to
Washington, D.C., where it was expected late Tuesday night. As the storm
pushed toward the Mid-Atlantic region, people there were gathering
supplies and airlines were canceling flights.
Since the 2011
blizzard that dumped 20 inches on Chicago, the nation's third-largest city
has had it pretty easy snow-wise. But the storm that was moving through
Tuesday could end up dumping the most there since that blizzard, after a
relatively mild winter last year and a slow start to this year's.
Chicago were caught off guard by the last gasp from Old Man Winter.
"I thought it
was just media hype," said Stacia Kopplin, who was fleeing her financial
services job shortly after noon and walking through the blast of wet snow
to catch a train home to the suburbs.
closed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois, where officials urged caution
on snow-slickened roads. In western Wisconsin, a semi-trailer slid off a
snow-covered interstate near Menomonie and into the Red Cedar River,
killing one person. Authorities said they were searching for a second
person, believed to be a passenger.
canceled more than 1,100 flights at Chicago airports, prompting delays and
closures at others around the region. Airlines along the storm's projected
path were already cutting flights too, including about 450 on Wednesday,
most of them at Dulles and Reagan National airports in the Washington
area, according to FlightAware.com. Daniel Baker, CEO of the
flight-tracking service, said he expected the numbers to rise.
officials were working to keep Lake Shore Drive safe. The February 2011
blizzard embarrassed the city when hundreds of cars and buses were
entombed in snow on the roadway that runs along Lake Michigan and people
were trapped overnight.
government has taken steps to prevent a repeat. Officials have opened a
removable barrier in the median of the four-lane roadway to allow
emergency vehicles quicker access to trouble spots. Plows and
salt-spreading trucks are also in easier striking distance of Lake Shore
Drive, and they started treating the roadway hours before snow began
prepared as a city to deal with this snow," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel at
Chicago's emergency snow command center, where officials keep an eye on a
bank of TV monitors feeding in real-time images from 1,500 cameras and
data from roadway sensors.
along the storm's path, many were taking things in stride.
"It's not that
bad at all," said 47-year-old Alicia Aldrete, who was out walking her dog
in Madison, Wis. "Just make sure you shovel immediately, put lots of salt
on the ground and also store lots of food in case of emergency."
manager at Paul's Tavern in Dubuque, Iowa, said business was surprisingly
busy this afternoon as people came in to escape the snow. At least 5
inches of snow had fallen.
everyone's attitude is pretty tired," Koch said. "I think people are tired
of the snow and the gloomy weather."
In St. Paul,
Minn., where 7 inches of snow had fallen, 55-year-old Mario Showers was
shoveling sidewalks around a downtown church.
Minnesota, ain't no telling when the snow's gonna come, you know," said
Showers. "The way I think about it is that, you've got four seasons, and
every season brings about a change, you know. So, you've got to take the
bitter with the sweet, that's all. So this is the bitter right now."
Virginia, the forecast was already causing a run at some supermarkets At
the Food Lion in Staunton, shelves that were stocked ahead of the storm
were being cleared by customers.
eggs and beer, all the necessities," manager Everett Castle said.
Washington, D.C., were bracing for 3 to 7 inches. The mountains of western
Maryland could get up to 16 inches by Wednesday night. Minor tidal
flooding was possible along the Delaware coast, the western shore of the
Chesapeake Bay and the lower Potomac River, the National Weather Service
as things could get for commuters, taxi driver Balwinder Singh of Herndon,
Va., said he was looking forward to the storm.
better in the snow," he said.
heaviest snow fell in Chicago, residents were working their shovels and
Pat Reidy said
she skipped work and did 40 minutes of yoga as a warm-up for the heavy
lifting she was doing in her neighborhood near Wrigley Field.
"I'm trying to
avoid a heart attack," the 52-year-old finance worker said.
53, was helping clear the sidewalk in front an older neighbor's home.
"We don't want
her digging out," he said. "She's a tender, little woman, a piano teacher.
She doesn't need to be shoveling."
love-thy-neighbor ethos has its limits, though. With the winter blast,
Morawski expected the return of an old city tradition in which residents
clear a parking space and keep it reserved with a lawn chair.
come out tonight, believe me, when people start digging out," he said.