Latest snowfall leaves hundreds without power

2014-03-12T19:01:00Z 2014-03-21T21:34:14Z Latest snowfall leaves hundreds without powerLauri Harvey Keagle and Elvia Malagon, Times Staff

The latest snowfall left thousands without power for most of Wednesday and caused numerous crashes.   

Early Wednesday, jackknifed semitrucks caused temporarily lane closures on the Toll Road, police said. 

Indiana State Police for the Lowell District said Wednesday morning expressways and other state roads were slick and hazardous throughout the region. The Interstate 65/Borman Expressway interchange was particularly problematic, as was the area on the Borman Expressway near the state line, police said.

By Wednesday afternoon, road conditions were improving and Indiana State Police did not report any crashes with serious injuries. Officials continued to warn motorists to slow down because of icy road conditions.

Power outages across the region caused problems on some local roads. In Munster, a temporary outage of traffic lights in the intersection of Calumet and 45th avenues slowed traffic. There were also reports of traffic light issues across Hammond.  

NIPSCO reported just more than 33,000 customers scattered throughout the region without power at 7 a.m., with the heaviest concentration of outages in Crown Point and DeMotte.

By 9 p.m., the outages were down to 1,179. Hammond and Gary were most affected by the outages late Wednesday. 

Nick Meyer, NIPSCO spokesman, said the system held up throughout the snowstorms in January and February, but Wednesday's heavy, wet snow caused problems with power lines.

"Obviously we were well aware and were able to hold some crews overnight," Meyer said. "We are in the process of briefing our staff."

Amanda Steeb, spokeswoman for Kankakee Valley REMC, said that utility had numerous power outages as well. A large-scale transmission feed outage cut power to five KVREMC substations, Steeb said, causing power outages to 6,400 customers.

Steeb said crews restored power to two of the substations in Kouts and Porter by 9:30 a.m., bringing power back to residents in Lakes of the Four Seasons, Hebron, Kouts, LaCrosse and portions of Boone Grove. 

"This brought our outage numbers down to approximately 3,600 members," Steeb said.

By 7:30 p.m., service had been restored to all Porter County customers.

ComEd reported 25,000 customers in Cook County without power and another 7,000 in Will County without power about 7 a.m.

By 9 p.m., ComEd reported 2,689 customers in Cook County remained without power. In Will County, there were 474 customers still without power. 

INDOT called out a full complement of snowplows in the region to work to treat and clear roads.

Lake County Commissioner Gerry Scheub, D-Crown Point, said crews began working to clear county roads as early as 1 a.m. Wednesday. All county government offices remained open throughout the day.

U.S. 6 closed briefly in Porter County between County Road 300 East and County Road 400 East for icy conditions on the hill, said Porter County police Sgt. Larry LaFlower. The road was open again about 9:30 a.m.

County Road 700 North was closed about 9:30 a.m. between County Road 500 West and Willowcreek Road for a snapped utility pole and low-hanging wires, LaFlower said.

The latest storm brought the snowfall total for the Chicago area to 79.1 inches, keeping it ranked as the third snowiest winter season since 1884, according to the National Weather Service. 

Dyer saw the most snow Wednesday with a report of 6 inches, according to the National Weather Service. Crown Point had 3.5 inches and Valparaiso had 5.1 inches. Rensselaer reported 3 inches of snow.

A flood warning was issued Wednesday afternoon for the Kankakee River at Shelby in Lake County and Newton County, according to the National Weather Service.

Flood stage is 9 feet and at 10 feet flooding begins affecting local and county roads. According to the National Weather Service, the Kankakee River at Shelby was at 9.23 feet as of 1:45 p.m. 

In LaPorte County, wind chills were expected to dip to 5 to 15 degrees below zero early Thursday. In Lake County and Porter County, wind gusts Thursday are expected to get as high as 25 mph.

Temperatures are expected to reach 35 degrees Thursday with a low of 31 degrees, the National Weather Service reported. Temperatures will climb to 49 degrees Friday with a low of 29 degrees. 

Times staff writer Bill Dolan and Porter County Editor John Scheibel contributed to this report.

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