Treacherously icy conditions may be to blame for two fatal crashes Friday morning in LaPorte County, and more lake-effect snow could be on the way.
Strong north winds churned up 8 to 14-foot waves and a storm surge of up to 2 feet on Lake Michigan, prompting the National Weather Service to issued a lakeshore flood advisory until 4 a.m. Saturday.
A man was killed in a crash involving a car and a semitrailer about 6:30 a.m. on the Indiana Toll Road near LaPorte, just east of the Ind. 39 exit, state police Cpl. Warren Jones said.
A second adult and a child were taken to a local hospital with injuries believed to be minor, Jones said. The victims' identities were not immediately available.
Emergency workers initially requested a medical helicopter, but it was not able to respond in the wintry conditions, he said.
Westbound lanes were closed for about four hours for a crash investigation. The cause remained under investigation, but it may have been weather-related, Jones said.
About 10 a.m., a Michigan City woman was killed in a crash in the area of Springland Avenue and Karwick Road on Michigan City's east side, police Lt. Jeff Loniewski said.
Amanda Trampski, 34, was driving eastbound on Springland Avenue when she lost control of the car on the snow-and-slush-covered pavement and hit a utility pole, Michigan City police said in a news release.
The crash snapped the pole, leaving it hanging by wires, Loniewski said. Road conditions were icy, and the woman's car flipped over on its roof.
Several bystanders attempted to gain entry into the vehicle to get Trampski out, but the vehicle was so heavily damaged that entry could not be made until members of the Michigan City Fire Department arrived to extricate her.
A medical helicopter was called, but crews sent it back after the woman's condition worsened, said Buddy Kasinger, a spokesman for the LaPorte County Emergency Medical Service. The woman instead was taken by ambulance to nearby Franciscan St. Anthony Health in Michigan City.
"We had to get her to the hospital quicker," Kasinger said.
The woman was pronounced dead a short time later. Speed and road conditions were contributing factors in the fatal crash, police said.
LaPorte County remains under a travel advisory, which means travel may be restricted because of hazardous conditions and drivers should use caution.
Porter County government said about a fourth of an inch of sleet and snow had accumulated on roads as of 4 a.m., and all 33 county snowplows had been deployed to salt. Driers reported several slide-offs on because of slick conditions on Ind. 49 north of Valparaiso.
Several schools announced delays and closures, including several districts in Porter County that initially delayed classes but later closed for the day.
Several South Shore Line commuter trains during the morning rush also were delayed.
The Indiana Department of Homeland Security said it was activating the state Emergency Operations Center to monitor incoming weather. St. Joseph and Starke counties were under a travel watch, which means only essential travel is recommended.
Lake-effect snow showers were expected to develop Friday afternoon starting from Chicago southeast into Lake County and shifting east into Lake and Porter counties later Friday night.
The weather service predicted temperatures in LaPorte County would begin falling into the teens and lower 20s later Friday, with wind chills near zero by late afternoon and evening.
Lake-effect snow showers could persist Saturday, and more snow was expected to develop across the area late Sunday into Monday morning.
A flood watch was issued for the Kankakee River at Shelby, where ice in the river was causing water levels to rise. If conditions persist, the river could crest at 10 feet, and Wildwood Estates and Sumava Resorts could see some flooding, the weather service said.