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Chicago Digs Out From Season’s First Major Snowstorm

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Snow Blower

John Klut clears his block’s sidewalk with his snow blower in Hammond, Ind. (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED 01/13/12  – 5 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Bitter cold has set in after the snowstorm Thursday, as people struggle to get around, clean up, and start their cars.

CBS 2 Meteorologist Megan Glaros says the forecast proved to be right on the nose. Snow totals generally ended up in the range of 4 to 8 inches, with the highest recorded total at 8.2 inches in Lincolnwood.

READ MORE: Chicago Snow Totals

VIEWER PHOTOS: Chicago’s First Snow Of 2012

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports

Also ranking high were New Lenox, where 8 inches fell, Oak Park with 7.9; Peotone with 7.1; and Crown Point, Ind.; Plainfield and Joliet, with 7.

Officially, O’Hare International Airport got 4.9 inches of snow, and Midway International Airport got 6 inches.

Lake effect snow was expected to continue Friday from the eastern tip of Porter County north up along the west coast of Michigan. But gusting winds and bitter cold were the plague for most of the Chicago area in the midday hours Friday.

CBS 2’s Mary Kay Kleist reports temperatures were in the teens Friday morning in Naperville, with wind chills at or just below zero. The last time it was so cold in the Chicago area was nearly a year ago, on Feb.10, 2011.

Whether your commute started by car, by Metra train, or by foot, it was fairly miserable.

“On Wednesday, the kids were out playing without coats at lunchtime, and 24 hours later, we had snow falling, so it’s winter in the Midwest,” said Frank Glowaty, principal of Sts. Peter and Paul School in Naperville.

Student Sydney Otten has to stand outside working on the school safety patrol.

“It’s cold, very, but I don’t know, I’ll do my job,” she said.

Teacher Margie O’Connor was not happy about the arrival of the snow and cold.

“I cried,” she said. “I could be in Florida 24/7.”

But Sts. Peter and Paul parish facilities manager Frank Partipilo said at the end of the day, the snow isn’t a big deal.

“This is nothing. This is, like you said, the snow we were going to get. This morning, it was all blowing; everything was covered. We get here at 4:30, get everything cleared, put salt out, and we’re good to go,” he said.

And some people seemed to be in denial, including one student, Garrett.

“I like shorts,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Hammond, Ind., CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports the snow has been bringing out the generous side of neighbors as they clear the sidewalks. Tony Whitehead shoveled the walk for his neighbor.

“She’s 88. She can’t come out here and do it, so I lend a helping hand,” he said.

John Klut says he goes along with the snow blower for many of his neighbors, several of whom are elderly. He admits he doubted what Mother Nature would bring.

“I kind of thought the weathermen were wrong this year, but I guess they weren’t,” Klut said. “Channel 2 hit it pretty much on the nose, too.

By the time residents in Northwest Indiana woke up Friday morning, plows were moving up and down main roads to side streets, spraying salt wherever needed.

Whitehead assessed the snow as “a little thick, but it’s light, so it moves real easy.”

Neighbor Frank Jajchik has lived through 88 Indiana winters, and was in no hurry to get started shoveling.

“I don’t like it, to be honest with you,” he said. “Some of the guys are pretty active. They’ve been out here since 6 o’clock already shoveling snow. As soon as I wake up a little bit, then I’ll be out here shoveling snow.”

Hammond police predict about 4 inches of snow fell in the area.

Back in Chicago, the city kept its full fleet of 304 snow-fighting trucks on the street. Crews began clearing side streets at 8 a.m., having had to wait for the snow to stop and make sure the main roads were clear.

But with 3,300 miles of side streets in the city, the Department of Streets and Sanitation says that will take a while.

CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker says in the 3400 block of South Normal Avenue in the Bridgeport neighborhood, the streets remained unplowed, and getting around was difficult. Even streets that had been plowed were still slippery with packed ice.

The department also had snow plows out all night to keep Lake Shore Drive clear. The city focused on Lake Shore Drive so as to avoid a replay of the multi-car pileup that happened during a dusting of snow earlier this month.

While Lake Shore Drive seemed to be in fine shape, such was not the case everywhere. On the roads Thursday night and into Friday morning, more than 40 crashes were reported as cars slid into ditches and guardrails.

In particular, many cars ended up on the side of the road along the Edens Expressway between the Kennedy junction and Touhy Avenue.

CBS 2’s Kris Habermehl reports crashes were reported all around the area on Friday morning too. At 6:40 a.m., northbound Interstate 55 was a parking lot in the area around Burr Ridge, after a car slammed into the wall along the left shoulder between Route 83 and County Line Road.

Some of the lanes were covered with snow, with slippery ice underneath.

Also, busy Roosevelt Road was closed in both directions around Fabyan Parkway in West Chicago around 6:15 a.m. Friday, after a driver lost control and ended up in a ditch.

As public transit is concerned, the Chicago Transit Authority says everything is running smoothly and on time, but if you take buses or ‘L’ trains, your commute might be crowded.

“We always have added service during the rush periods, and we are closely monitoring that,” said spokeswoman Lambrini Loukidis. “We do encourage people to take public transit, and so we’re asking people to allow extra time, because we do anticipate more people who will be taking the CTA rather than driving to work or wherever they need to go.”

And while salt and shovels could just as soon have been catching dust and cobwebs in the basement prior to Thursday, that is no longer the case.

In Oak Park, neighbors were making a point of keeping the sidewalks as clear as possible. WBBM Newsradio’s Brandis Friedman reports foot traffic at Dressel’s Hardware, 1137 Chicago Ave., apartment building owner Bill McShea said he is not taking any chances with not having enough salt.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Brandis Friedman reports

“At this time of year, there are attorneys, and people slip, and it’s cheaper to throw a few bags of salt than it is to face a catastrophic lawsuit,” he said.

After last winter, Ronald Gonzalez was hoping to get away without needing road salt.

“It’s different because it’s milder,” he said. “Last year, we had about what, 2 feet, 3 feet of snow?”

Hardware store owner Todd Dressel said he has seen less business than usual due to what until this week was a mild winter. He still has about 80,000 pounds of ice melt in stock and several hundred shovels, about half of which would have been sold by now during a typical winter.

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