Snow ends, but dig out and recovery just beginning

February 1, 2011

By City Room and The Associated Press

(AP/Kiichiro Sato)
A bulldozer works to clear Lake Shore Drive, which reopened early Thursday morning after having been closed since Tuesday night.
(Getty/Scott Olson)
(Flickr/Yooperann)
Michigan & Randolph as snowstorm blasts Chicago late Tuesday
(WBEZ/Tony Arnold)
A view of Lake Michigan and Chicago's skyline from Navy Pier Tuesday morning.
(WBEZ/Tony Arnold)
Lake Michigan Tuesday morning.
(WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)
Buses moved well Wednesday afternoon along Chicago’s Western Avenue.

Updated: 3:09 PM

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley says the city's public schools will be open tomorrow. But Daley says there is still a "long way to go" as the city digs out from the third-largest winter storm in its history.

Daley spoke Thursday morning, two days after the snow started falling in Chicago. The storm left more than 20 inches of snow at O'Hare International Airport. The mayor says "while all the snow has ended, the effects of the snow will be with us for a while."

Chicago's iconic Lake Shore Drive was reopened early Thursday morning, after being closed down since Tuesday night due to the massive snow storm that hit the city.

Crews continued working to clear and reopen Lake Shore Drive overnight, which was closed on Tuesday evening after blizzard conditions, snowdrifts and a series of traffic accidents made the road treacherous and impassable.

Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley’s chief of staff, Raymond Orozco, told reporters Thursday morning that plowing the city’s side streets are now the top priority.

“Most of the focus has moved to the side streets, just eight hours after the storm ended,” he said.

The announcement comes after crews worked through the night to re-open Lake Shore Drive around 5:30 Thursday morning. Orozco said the city has in its possession 519 vehicles that were abandoned on Lake Shore Drive during the snow storm. He said a website has been created for vehicle owners to search for their license plates to find out where their cars are being held. Orozco addressed concerns from the public that they couldn’t find where the city had taken their car which had been abandoned on Lake Shore Drive. 

“Because the situation was fluid as we got to a relocation site that may have been full, we moved that vehicle to another relocation site. So early on the situation was fluid.”

Hundreds of motorists were stranded on the Drive as a result of the closure, and some waited for hours to be evacuated from their cars.

Frigid temperatures and subzero wind-chills threaten to make travel and recovery efforts difficult during the next few days.  That's according to emergency management leaders with the City of Chicago. 

During a news conference late Wednesday, city officials urged people to stay home if at all possible, as temperatures are expected to drop sharply during the next 12 hours.  Public health officials, however, encouraged people to check on friends, family and neighbors.  So far there have been at least four deaths attributed to the weather in the Chicago area.

Emergency officials are also urging those shoveling snow to be extra careful, especially those with heart conditions  40 people in the Chicago-area died of heart attacks sparked by shoveling snow during the major blizzard of 1999, according to the National Weather Service.