It's officially winter with a blizzard of epic proportions out here in Chicago. The weather experts are saying this may top the whopper of '67. I have no memory of that one being just a little toddler at the time. But when our family moved to Connecticut in the 1970s I certainly experienced my fair share of insane winter weather. We had ice storms that shut down our town and left us snowbound and without power. We huddled around our fireplace, cooked on sterno kits that my mother used for her holiday buffets, and took our fat basset hound in the backyard to frolic in five foot drifts.
I've been in Chicago now for over 25 years and only have lived through only one real snowstorm back in 1999. This one is pretty darn nasty compared to that. While I was lucky enough to get home yesterday evening without any incident, I am just learning that hundreds of people in cars and CTA buses were stranded on Lake Shore Drive here in Chicago for hours. Some headed home at 3:30 in the Hyde Park neighborhood on our South side were unlucky enough to encounter huge snowdrifts or car accidents that left them stuck in their cars for up to 12 hours. Rescuers from fire departments around the city have finally got the last of the stranded people. The road is officially closed now and the work begins to remove the cars and buses.
This blizzard is far worse than I thought it would be. It is crippling not only the Chicago but the entire the state of Illinois. I have heard that a highway to the west of -- Interstate 39 -- is officially closed from Bloomington (in the center of the state) to Rockford (just south of the Wisconsin border). That's a total of 133 miles. Closer to my home, here in the northernmost neighborhood of Rogers Park, portions of our public transportation train line, the CTA Brown Line, is shut off in the west. My sister who lives in a northern suburb tells me that surrounding towns have lost power. Our lights flickered three separate times, thankfully we're still with electricity and phone service.
My partner and I cleared the walkway in front of building twice and kept attacking the drifts that were blocking our rear entry that leads to the parking lot. I'll probably be getting to it again later this morning. The drifts in the parking lot in the rear of the building are up to my waist. I'm 5'9" tall. Fun! I'm saving the parking lot itself for the guys we hire to clear it out. They at least have a snow plow. But somehow I'm not sure they'll be coming today.
Send out your good thoughts to this part of the Midwest. We could always use a few prayers. And maybe a gigantic sunlamp.