Buried: Weather, School Closings, Road Conditions
Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Simon and Garfunkel sang of a “freshly fallen silent shroud of snow” on an erstwhile winter’s day. Park Foresters worked to emerge from a similar shroud that buried the Village and much of Chicagoland. The snow, topping 10 inches in Park Forest, began before 11 PM Tuesday night and continued through much of the day Wednesday. According to one report, by 6 AM, only 0.7 inches had fallen in the Village, but schools and businesses were already closed throughout the area in preparation for the blast yet to come, our share of a 2,000-mile-long winter storm pattern that stretched from Texas through the U.S. Northeast, with Chicago set to get the worst of it.
Prairie State College closed Wednesday and will remain closed on Thursday, Feb. 3. Likewise, Park Forest-Chicago Heights School District 163 had remote learning Wednesday and will do the same Thursday. The same holds for Matteson School District 162, Crete-Monee School District 201-U, Rich Township High School District 227, and Marian Catholic High School. In addition to Park Forest, Marian Catholic draws students from the Chicago south suburban and northeast Indiana region.
Road crews began their treks Tuesday night. From my front porch on Ash Street, I saw salt trucks traveling north on Western Avenue starting at 11 PM. According to Village Manager Tom Mick, Public Works crews pulled 18-hour shifts, constant work to plow, salt, and clear roads repeatedly.
Western Avenue had only one navigable lane north and south late this afternoon as streets and intersections remained buried. Turning at intersections remains a ‘crapshoot’ tonight as the snow tends to be deeper where one would ordinarily direct one’s vehicle in a new direction. Tires slipping beneath you are only one part of the equation. Betting that someone else won’t slide across the road or through an intersection you’re traversing is something else.
Luckily, when I drove this afternoon, traffic was much lighter than usual. Drivers seemed patient and waved each other ahead at intersections. Cleaning off the car before the drive took a good half-hour to 45 minutes. The snow was thick over the entire vehicle.
Driving along South Orchard Drive shortly after 4 PM, I saw a snowplow heading north, pushing more snow from a road that had already been plowed earlier in the day — how many times is anyone’s guess. As the truck passed, I rolled down my window, extended my hands outside the car, smiled, and applauded the driver, who looked down from his high perch, smiled brightly, and waved.
Police pleaded with residents on social media to avoid parking along snow routes:
Friends, we don’t want to ticket, but the fine men and women of the Department of Public Works are finding challenges in keeping our streets clear due to parking on snow routes. As we have had well above 2 inches of snowfall, there is no parking on snow routes. This allows DPW crews to keep our roads clear for emergency response and essential travel.Source: Park Forest Police Department
Later, police simply asked everyone to stay off the roads entirely, “Please continue to stay off the roads if you can and if your travel is essential, leave extra space for stopping. Roads are slick and drifting is occurring in open areas.”
Neighboring Richton Park sent a notice to residents that, due to the storm, no vehicles at all may be parked on Village streets:
In order for our vehicles to properly plow the community during snow events, especially like this week, there is NO PARKING AFTER 2-INCHES OF SNOWFALL.
In weather just as today’s, if your vehicle is parked on Village streets, please relocate them to a garage, driveway, or off-street lot. Violators may be subjected to ticketing and/or towing.
This Public Service Announcement is issued to gain your cooperation and aid our Public Works Dept’s efforts for efficiency.Source: Village of Richton Park
The Park Forest Fire Department was busy too, with an engine and smaller truck answering a call on North Street Tuesday afternoon.
In short, the roads are still a mess.
The Chicago office of the National Weather Service currently shows a Winter Weather Advisory for Cook County and a large Winter Storm Warning continuing for Kankakee, south of Will County, and Northwest Indiana. However, how do they manage to halt the winter storm warning at the state line between Indiana and Illinois?
The National Weather Service says Wednesday night into Thursday shows a 40 percent chance of snow showers, mainly after 2 AM with patchy blowing snow. It will be cloudy, with a low around 21. The wind will be north around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph.
A 50 percent chance of snow remains Thursday, mainly before noon. There will be patchy blowing snow that will again cover roads. It will be cloudy, with a high near 23. A north northeast wind around 15 mph with gusts as high as 30 mph will crawl the area.
Thursday night there will be a 20 percent chance of snow before midnight. Skies will be mostly cloudy, with a low around 10. There will be a north northeast wind of 10 to 15 mph becoming light north after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 25 mph.
Some of what we saw today: