Snow in U.S. Midwest traps more than 70 motorists

People shovelling to help a taxi who got stuck in the snow near the IDS Centre in Minneapolis.  

Authorities worked Monday to reach more than 70 motorists in snow-covered Midwestern state of Indiana who were trapped in their cars in biting temperatures, as the storm has blamed for at least 15 deaths.

LaPorte County sheriff’s Deputy Andy Hynek said officials don’t know exactly how many people were stranded, but some had been stuck for as long as 12 hours.

The heavy lake effect snow in Indiana was part of a slow-moving storm that has been crawling across the central United States since Friday night. The storm dumped nearly 2 feet (0.6 meters) of snow before it stretched further east, with snow in parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.

The upper Midwest also has been gripped by bone-chilling cold as arctic air swept in behind the storm. Wind chills were well below freezing in many places, and schools in Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and other states shut down because of the snow and cold.

The 12-degrees Fahrenheit (-11 Celsius) temperature didn’t stop hundreds of football fans from lining up hours before free tickets to Monday night’s game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Giants became available at 9 a.m. at Ford Field. The game was moved to Detroit after the Minneapolis Metrodome’s inflated roof collapsed Sunday under the weight of heavy snow.

Indiana was hardest hit Monday, with up to 16 inches (40 centimetres) of lake effect snow in some areas. Lake effect snow develops when cold air rushes over the warmer water in the Great Lakes.

About 70 vehicles were trapped by snow drifts Monday morning on a section of highway in the Valparaiso area. Police said they were found warm and safe in their vehicles.

Crews were using front-end loaders to remove drifts on U.S. 30, where other drivers were trapped by overnight, state highway department spokesman Jim Pinkerton said. Sections of two highways were closed, and with winds of up to 30 mph (48 kph), LaPorte and Porter counties issued emergency orders telling drivers to stay off county roads as well.

“As soon as the plows go through an area, the wind is blowing fresh snow right back into the roads,” Pinkerton said. “It is just really difficult for us to keep up against that wind and snow.”

At least 15 deaths in four states have been attributed to the storm. Four people died in traffic accidents, and a 79-year-old man snow-blowing the end of his driveway in western Wisconsin was killed when a plow truck backed into him. Four men in Michigan and one in Minnesota died after shovelling or blowing snow, and Kenneth Swanson, 58, of rural Wisconsin, died when a metal shed collapsed from the heavy snow, pinning him under debris and about 3 feet (0.9 meters) of snow.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2021 9:16:42 AM |

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