Massive Snowstorm Batters Chicago: The Chicago Blizzard of 2011
Chicago is a city that prides itself on its ability to conquer any snowstorm that comes its way, but it woke up on Wednesday to discover that hundreds of people had been trapped by a massive blizzard for hours along a prominent roadway that runs smack through the heart of the city. Among the scenes described by those who spent most or all of the harrowing night on Lake Shore Drive: Frustrated drivers trying to unclog the roads by pushing stuck and abandoned cars through snow-filled exit ramps; a band of passengers crowded inside one Chicago Transit Authority bus, deciding after five hours to make a run for it (many were forced to turn back); people who ventured out, perhaps from their homes along Lake Shore Drive, to deliver cereal bars, water and Gatorade to those who had been stranded.
Cold winds were part two of the brutal storm system that stranded motorists, caused power outages, forced the cancelation of thousands of flights and closed down schools across the region, including Chicago schools for the first time since 1999. On Wednesday, winds of up to 70 mph had whipped up around about 20.2 inches of snow, creating high drifts and some whiteout conditions that made driving hazardous. Thursday’s sub-zero temperatures were expected to add a different layer of misery for commuters.
At 7 a.m. on Thursday, the temperature at O’Hare International Airport was zero with a wind chill of 11 below. Wind chills were expected to plumet to 20 below by early afternoon, according to the National Weather Service. Under such conditions, frostbite can develop within 30 minutes, officials said. Emergency personnel worked overnight to clear Lake Shore Drive of the large number of abandoned vehicles and huge mounds of snow, according a spokesman for Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications.
The Chicago Blizzard of 2011
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