Several school districts in Northwest Indiana issued a two-hour delay for Thursday morning in anticipation of wind chills that are expected to dip below zero.
The National Weather Service in Chicago issued a wind chill advisory until 6 a.m. Thursday. The wind chills are expected to fall to as low as 25 degrees below zero overnight.
The National Weather Service warned the cold air and strong wind could lead to frost bite and hypothermia.
Several cities across Northwest Indiana opened warming centers in response to the cold temperatures. To view a full list of all the centers, visit http://bit.ly/1cpvoeu.
School districts, including Duneland, Tri-Township, East Porter, Portage, Union Township, Valparaiso, Merrillville and Porter Township issued two-hour delays for Thursday morning. St. Patrick Elementary in Chesterton and SELF School in Porter County also issued two-hour delays. Bishop Noll Institute will delay the start of classes until 9:30 a.m. Thursday.
The advisory is the latest indication that winter weather is here though the official start of the season is a week away. Snow and slick roads have been blamed for multiple crashes since Sunday.
A four-vehicle crash Wednesday morning caused Indiana State Police to close the eastbound lanes of Interstate 80/94 for two hours.
Police said Desiree Hampton, 22, of Hammond, was driving a 1992 Buick eastbound too fast for slick road conditions when she lost control, spun out and hit the concrete barrier wall before bouncing back onto the expressway.
A semi out of Minnesota loaded with five pontoon boats swerved to avoid hitting the Buick and jack-knifed. The driver of a second semi braked and swerved to avoid a collision but hit the barrier wall and the first semi, police said.
A third semi approached and could not avoid hitting the first two semis.
One pontoon boat fell off of the trailer of the first semi onto the expressway. No one was injured in the crashes.
Indiana State Police said Hampton was cited for speeding too fast for conditions.
Sgt. Ann Wojas, of the Indiana State Police Lowell District, said troopers responded to multiple accidents on local expressways and characterized the road conditions as snow-covered, slick and hazardous.
Wojas said drivers on many local roads appeared to be driving too fast for conditions. Police urged drivers to be prepared for slick spots on the roads by increasing following distance, reducing speed and using caution on bridges, overpasses and at intersections, all of which freeze first.
According to the National Weather Service, more snow is expected to move through the area Friday night into Saturday.