By Marissa Perlman and Sabrina Franza
CROWN POINT, Indiana (CBS) – Northwestern Indiana experienced blizzard conditions all afternoon Thursday as a heavy snowstorm battered the Chicago area.
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As CBS 2’s Marissa Perlman reported, wind and driving snow were everywhere near Crown Point around 4 p.m. The snow fell quickly and really stuck to the roads – visibility deteriorating every half hour.
During the evening rush, the wind in northwest Indiana was blowing at over 20 mph as snow fell rapidly.
At a residence just off Cline Avenue in Crown Point, many people stayed off the roads all afternoon – even as traffic continued.
The dangers were evident by the afternoon rush. Just off Main Street in Crown Point, we saw a car stuck in a ditch, its driver receiving help from local police.
The snowstorm began moving towards Crown Point just after noon. Within minutes, inches of snow began piling up in downtown Crown Point.
Even in the early afternoon, drivers had to navigate an already dangerous route.
Businesses on Main Street told us they closed early Thursday in anticipation of the weather – and poor visibility.
Meanwhile, 11 schools in Lake County, Indiana were all back to remote learning on Thursday, or closed altogether.
Avery Petit of Crown Point said she wasn’t exactly surprised by another snowstorm.
“I’m definitely ready for spring, but I think I was expecting a few more snowstorms,” she said. “I think I’ll just stay home so I don’t have any driving accidents so I can just keep everyone safe.”
But for some, such a severe winter outburst came as a surprise.
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“Twenty years ago we saw this often – there were feet of snow and huge snowdrifts. Lately we haven’t had that. The last 10 years we just don’t understand,” said Rick Cannon of Crown Point. “The snow is pretty, but it’s a bit ugly when it’s like that.”
Indeed, Cannon was not at all pleased with the winter storm.
“We don’t like this weather very much. We slip and fall and break our jumps, and we slip in our cars – which we don’t like,” he said.
Law enforcement is also encouraging everyone to stay off the roads in northwest Indiana — with poor visibility, more snow, and blizzard-like conditions.
Visibility was also dangerously low on Thursday afternoon in the southern suburbs. As CBS 2’s Sabrina Franza reported, it was like a snow globe on the side near Lincoln Highway in Matteson when the afternoon rush started.
Precautions were needed while driving, in case a car skidded sideways or through a red light.
Initially, plows were seen in the area spreading salt, although due to the relatively light accumulation, major clearing was not required late Thursday afternoon. But the snow quickly piled up as the afternoon turned into evening and started to pile up. A gas station in Richton Park was a ghost town early Thursday evening, with few drivers on the roads.
Maria Castaneda of the Illinois Department of Transportation warned during the evening rush that anyone hitting the road would face a messy ride. She said the blowing wind was causing near whiteout conditions in parts of the region.
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Castaneda also warned that slippery spots will abound as the temperature drops – especially on bridges and overpasses. She said the IDOT trucks are out there, but will be stuck in traffic like everyone else – and the IDOT plows should have room.