Northwest Indiana experiencing 'whiteout conditions' as snowstorm hits, state police warn of travel

Indiana State Police is warning motorists to "reconsider travel" as northwest Indiana is experiencing "whiteout conditions" Thursday from the winter storm slamming parts of the Chicagoland area.

Sgt. Glen Fifield with ISP tweeted a photo in the afternoon of I-65 that showed bumper-to-bumper traffic and visibility being extremely low. He also mentioned there had been multiple crashes so far throughout the day.

Southbound lanes of Interstate 65 were closed in Newton County because of a traffic crash blamed on the weather. "Road conditions are quickly deteriorating," the Indiana Department of Transportation tweeted.

"I-65 SB south of exit 240 is closed multi-vehicle pile-up. We are asking drivers to avoid I-65 and reconsider travel as it is currently impassable," according to Sgt. Fifield.

A band of heavy snow swept from eastern Kansas into central Missouri early Thursday, then moved into central Illinois and northern Indiana by the afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.


The snow was expected to be the heaviest south of Interstate 80, with "near blizzard conditions possible south of a Pontiac, Illinois to Valparaiso Indiana line," the weather service said.

The storm could drop up to four inches of snow in the Chicago area. The weather service warned of hazardous conditions for the evening rush hour, with temperatures dropping into the teens and winds gusting to 35 mph.


Shortly before 2 p.m., Illinois State Police reported several crashes on interstates 55 and 72. "Please slow down and stay off your phones," it advised.

The snow is expected to stop falling around 9 p.m., with the possible exception of downwind of the lake in Porter and LaPorte counties.

As of 8 a.m. Thursday, nearly 200 flights had been canceled at O'Hare Airport and over 130 flights were canceled at Midway Airport.

The Illinois Tollway has deployed its full fleet of 196 snowplows in response to freezing rain, sleet and the snow.

"Our crews will be working throughout this storm to keep the roads clear and our customers safe, but we are asking drivers to help us by giving plows and emergency vehicles the extra room they need to safely do their work," said Illinois Tollway Executive Director José Alvarez. "We are reminding drivers to please slow down and allow extra time to complete their trips, and to be alert for areas where blowing snow could reduce visibility."

Drivers whose vehicles become disabled should activate their hazard lights and dial *999 from a cellphone for assistance from Illinois State Police District 15.

Drivers should note the roadway they are using, as well as the direction of travel and nearest milepost or crossroad. For crashes involving property damage only, drivers should report the incident to 630-241-6800 ext. 5042 and continue driving.

Friday will be sunnier and cold with a chilly wind, with a high near 32 degrees. There could be a quick snow shower late at night.

Weekend looks dry with mid to upper 20s on Saturday and mid 40s on Sunday.

Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.