MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. - While most of the chilly Chicago area enjoyed bright sunny skies on Thursday, you didn’t have to travel far to find the worst of winter.
It was a completely different story in northwest Indiana, where bands of lake effect snow hammered communities along the lakefront.
They call it the "snow belt," and snow plow driver Jason Moles said it’s living up to its reputation.
"It was a whiteout at times. Coming in, trying to get to the plow, pretty tough sometimes," he said.
After a pretty easy winter so far, northwest Indiana got its first lake effect gut punch, with up to nine inches falling in parts of LaPorte County and Michigan City.
"Oh the snow man, it started coming down, started really noticing the big flakes around 4 o'clock this morning. And then I got up like 6:30 having coffee and looking out the snow flakes were getting bigger and bigger," said Michigan City resident Chris Cooper.
The lake effect snow intensified through the morning, dumping about five inches in Michigan City before letting up.
Many schools were closed, with students attending online from home in what has so far been an uncharacteristically dry winter.
"I think it’s only the second or third time we’ve gotten snow," said Amy Commean of Michigan City. "I love it. I love snow. I love winter. And I love the lake."
While most hardy Midwesterners take all this for granted, we actually ran into a snow tourist. Lindsey Wagner of Fairhope, Alabama was visiting Chicago and made a special drive to Michigan City’s lakefront just to experience the snow.
"It’s pretty great," Wagner said. "It just makes my heart happy. It’s just a clean slate."