Subzero conditions cause traffic issues, power outages and delays Monday

Many schools close around area

Published: Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014 11:20 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Jan. 6, 2014 2:25 p.m. CDT
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Commuters brave sub-zero temperatures at the Metra station in Fox River Grove Monday morning. Sub-zero temperatures are expected through Tuesday morning with wind chills ranging from 30-50 below zero.
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(Kyle Grillot - kgrillot@shawmedia.com)
Ryan Coffey shovels his driveway Sunday with his daughter, Kendall, 7, in Fox River Grove. "Better off to take care of this before tomorrow," said Coffey, referring to the extremely cold weather expected in the area. Wind chills are expected to be 30 below zero, with wind of 40 to 50 below zero expected into Monday afternoon. The weather service is forecasting a prolonged period of dangerously cold wind chills from Sunday night through Tuesday morning.

Extreme low temperatures caused dozens of traffic issues, brief power outages and train delays Monday morning.

With wind chills reaching 43 degrees below zero in McHenry County by 6 a.m., roads became "sheets of ice" in some areas causing multiple vehicles to end up in ditches and some crashes on the roads.

The iciest areas were found on Randall Road where traffic was closed off at the intersections near Huntley Road and Corporate Parkway. Northbound traffic was closed at Randall and Huntley roads and southbound traffic was closed at Randall Road and Corporate Parkway until salt trucks arrived. Officers described the roads as "sheets of ice."

Multiple power outages also occurred in Huntley where roughly 150 ComEd customers were without service because of a damaged line. The outages, which started at different times between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., are expected to be fixed by 10:00 a.m., according to ComEd.

Metra also reported delays across all its lines including the Union Pacific/Northwest Line out of Crystal Lake and Pingree Road stations. Delays ranged from 15 to 45 minutes for inbound and outbound trains on that line.

Garbage and recycling collections are also expected to be postponed Monday with Crystal Lake, Algonquin, Huntley, Lake in the Hills, Prairie Grove and Spring Grove announcing the one-day schedule shift on their websites. Most municipalities are expected to seize the services Monday as most waste management companies have announced they would not operate.

Waste Management officials said they would not operate on Monday and will resume a holiday week schedule with collection delayed by one day.

The National Weather Service issued a warning that a prolonged period of bitter wind chills – as low as 40 to 50 degrees below zero Sunday night into Monday afternoon – could result in frostbite and hypothermia in a matter of minutes.

The forecasted wind chills would be the lowest in nearly 20 years, the alert said.

Drifting snow and icy roads caused the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office to recommend people stay at home except in the case of an emergency, Sgt. Porfirio Campos-Cruz said.

Police have been responding to numerous reports of cars ending up in ditches, causing property damage, he said. He was not aware of any accidents with serious injuries as of Monday morning.

While the plows have been keeping up with the snow in many places, a lack of obstructions in areas with open fields, in particular west of Route 47, has caused blowing snow to limit visibility, Campos-Cruz said.

“It is dangerous out there due to the weather conditions,” he said. “As long as there’s wind, road conditions will continue to not improve.”

Customers visited Bjorkman’s Ace Hardware in McHenry in steady waves Sunday, prepping for the arctic blast, store manager Gary Morley said.

“It’s been busy,” he said. “They are buying window insulating kits. They’re buying stuff for their cars.”

Morley recommended that everyone make sure their carbon monoxide detectors are working, especially because some will be using stoves or portable heating devices for extra heat.

In the basement of Bethany Lutheran Church in Crystal Lake, about 40 people checked in at the PADS homeless shelter Sunday night, a number lower than normal, said the site manager, who goes by Linda Bethany to shelter visitors.

“When it’s this cold, friends will let them spend a night,” she said.

Most arrived at 7 p.m., right when the doors opened, Bethany said. Others will be brought in by police during the night or after they end up at the hospital because of a fall.

The shelter offers a place to shower and sleep. Volunteers served up chili, hot dogs, fruit, cookies, cake and some goofing around. The Blackhawks game played on a TV.

First United Methodist Church of Crystal Lake will be open as a warming site during the day Monday, joining Willow Creek Community Church, which is normally open during the winter months.

“If we’re here, the police don’t have to deal with all the people on the street,” Bethany said. “They might have found them frozen or dead. We give them a place to go that’s warm and hopefully more friendly. ... We always have room even if they have to sleep on the floor.”

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