The Great Blizzard of ’11 has ended. Though a few “lake effect” flurries may linger, weather forecasters anticipate little, if any, additional accumulation. The process of digging out from under this snowfall–the third heaviest on record–has begun and likely will continue for many days. Because of this, the Chicago public schools and city colleges will remain closed for a second day on Thursday.
I traveled throughout the ward this morning with my Ward Superintendent, Greg Wagner, in his four-wheel drive truck. Despite the valiant efforts of City snowplow drivers, the main arterial streets were barely passable and traffic was hampered by abandoned cars and busses that were stuck in the snow. In fact, Morse Avenue was completely blocked by a bus that had skidded in the snow and ended perpendicular to the street! With few exceptions, the side streets were snowed-in and on many streets, snow drifts completely buried the parked cars.
Now that the storm has passed, the digging out begins. Here’s what you can expect:
Clearing Snow from Main Arterial Streets
City snow plows continue to concentrate on the clearing the main arterial streets. Until those streets are completely cleared and salted, the parking ban on the City’s designated snow routes will continue. City tow trucks are currently in the process of removing the abandoned vehicles. I am told the bus on Morse Avenue has been towed and Morse is now passable.
Clearing Snow from Residential Side Streets
Snow plows will turn their attention to the residential side streets only after the main arterial streets are clear and traffic is flowing. This may not occur until this evening. Though City snowplows will be able to navigate some of the side streets, they will be hampered by abandoned vehicles stuck in the snow and huge snow drifts.
The snow drifts are simply too high for the snowplows. Instead, on streets with large snow drifts, the snow will have to be collected by a front-end loader and either relocated to another location on the block or carted away by dump trucks. This will be a very time-consuming process. We have one front-end loader currently working in the ward and we hope to have more later this evening. The snow removal process will be made more difficult by automobiles that were abandoned by their owners in the middle of the street. In short, it may be several days before all the residential streets are once again passable.
Clearing Snow from Alleys
Alleys are last on the priority list. I have not been informed of the City’s snow removal plans with respect to alleys, but in 1999, during the last snowstorm of this magnitutde, the City used front-end loaders to clear the alleys. Though the City budget is much more strained this year than it was in 1999, I hope and expect the alleys will also be cleared of snow. This will not happen, however, until all the residential side streets have been cleared of snow. This means that work will likely not even begin on the alleys until this weekend and not be completed until sometime next week.
Clearing Snow from Fire Hydrants and Intersections
City laborer crews are hand shoveling snow from fire hydrants and intersections. Their work will continue until this weekend.
Tips and a Few Requests
Even though the snow has stopped falling, do not venture out in your car unless you absolutely have to. As I indicate above, the main arterial streets are barely passable and most residential side streets and alleys are impassable. If you attempt to drive, you are likely to get stuck in the snow, which will greatly hinder and delay the City’s ability to clear the streets for everyone.
Further, please keep in mind whether you are a homeowner or business owner, you are responsible for shoveling your sidewalk. I realize this is a huge snowfall, but I hope everyone will make the effort to keep their sidewalks as passable as possible.
Finally, when you shovel your walk or dig your car out of the snow, please pile the snow in the parkway. Do not pile the snow in the street. Piles of snow in the street will freeze in the sub-zero temperatures expected tonight and possibly make your street impassable.
Restoration of Electric Power
Some 49th Ward residents experienced power outages last night. Most have had their power restored, but residents on the 1500 blocks of Estes and Touhy, as well as the 7100 block of Greenview still are without power. Com Ed tells me they hope to have the power restored by 6 p.m. tonight.
Some Final Words
I appreciate your understanding and patience. This was one of the most intense winter storms in Chicago history and it will take several days to dig out from under it. In the meantime, stay inside where it’s warm. If you must venture out, try to use public transportation. The CTA “L” trains are running and the busses should be back to full schedule this evening.
If you have any questions or special requests, contact my 49th Ward Service Office at 773-338-5796 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.