MICHIGAN CITY – An early season storm dropped 2-4 inches of snow across La Porte County on Monday, and more is expected, potentially a lot more.
By the time most La Porte County residents went to bed Monday night, heavy snow had fallen across much of the area, with a total of 3 to 6 inches of snow expected. And another 2-5 inches could fall through Tuesday night as winds shift to the north-northwest, bringing the potential of lake effect snow.
The National Weather Service said total snow accumulations of 5 to 10 inches, with isolated amounts of 12 inches or more were possible through Tuesday night.
A winter storm warning remains in effect for La Porte and St. Joseph counties in Indiana, and Berrien and Cass counties in Michigan until 4 p.m. (CST) Tuesday.
The warning means untreated roads will become snow covered and travel will be difficult, the Weather Service said, with hazardous conditions impacting both the morning and evening commutes on Tuesday. That system was expected to shift away overnight as lake effect showers develop.
"The potential exists for these bands to drop 1 to 2 inches of snow per hour" on Tuesday, the Weather Service said. "Portions of Berrien and Cass counties could potentially see over a foot of snow depending on how long any snow bands remain in any one location."
Snow forecasts varied across La Porte County, with areas to the west, including Michigan City, expected to see just another inch or two on Tuesday, but the snow depths increasing closer to the state line and the St. Joseph County line.
The changing winds will also send temperatures crashing, with lows expected near single digits Tuesday night, and highs in the mid-20s to low 30s on Tuesday and Wednesday.
"This is an air mass that's more typical for the middle of January than mid-November," said National Weather Service meteorologist Kevin Birk. "It is pretty much about the coldest we can be this time of year (and) it could break records all over the region."
The forecast called for a low of about 17 on Tuesday morning, a high of 23-25 on Tuesday, and overnight temperatures approaching records lows of 10-15 into Wednesday, when highs would again reach only the upper 20s.
There is a chance of more lake effect snow Wednesday night as cold temperatures hang around, with highs in the 30s and lows in the the 20s the rest of the week. The area is not expected to see a high of 40 until Sunday.
Authorities are warning people to stay warm and off the roads if possible.
The La Porte County Sheriff's Office said that in a one-hour period Monday morning, deputies responded to eight motor vehicles crashes throughout the county, with two more pending response.
"The roads are slick and beginning to cover with slush/snow," a statement from the sheriff's office said. "The snow is forecasted to linger ... but the projected accumulations will not be crippling. Drivers should adjust accordingly to the roadway conditions and slow down."
Birk said lows on Tuesday could drop into the single digits or low teens in Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa, with highs climbing no further than the low 20s. The forecast high of 21 for Chicago would be a full seven degrees lower than the previous record on Nov. 12.
The Indiana Department of Transportation La Porte District reported the wind, gusting at over 20 mph, was causing blowing and drifting in rural areas.
In La Porte, a U.S. Postal Service delivery truck was involved in an accident just before 8 a.m. on U.S. 35 north of Schultz Road. The sheriff's office said at least two people were injured.
"In these areas, blowing really becomes an issue, making freshly plowed roads snow-covered in a hurry," according to INDOT, which said the northern portion of the district, including I-94 and the Indiana Toll Road, had been "hit hard."
The expressways proved tricky, with Indiana State Police responding to dozens of minor crashes and slide-offs. Just after noon, traffic slowed to a crawl on westbound I-94 following a crash near the U.S. 421 exit in Michigan City that ISP reported included injuries and possible ejection.
Master Trooper Glen Fifield tweeted late Monday afternoon that anyone considering traveling through Northwest Indiana, "please re-evaluate your need to travel. Visibility is rapidly deteriorating."
Travel advisories were issued for St. Joseph and Lake counties late Monday afternoon.
The arctic air mass brought snow and ice from the Rocky Mountains east to northern New England on Monday.
In Chicago, where as much as 6 inches of snow fell, an Envoy Air flight from Greensboro, North Carolina, slid off an icy runway at O'Hare International Airport as it tried to land about 7:45 a.m. Monday. None of the 38 passengers and three crew members were injured, according to the city's Aviation Department. Nearly 1,000 flights were canceled at Chicago's airports and officials opened warming centers. In Michigan, many schools closed early.
The frigid air from Siberia had temperatures diving from the Rockies to the East Coast, with temperatures below freezing as far south as Texas' Gulf Coast.
A Lakeshore Flood Warning was also issued for La Porte, Porter and Lake counties through Tuesday afternoon, with waves of 8-12 feet and wind gusts over 30 mph.
• There will be no school on Tuesday at St. Stanislaus Catholic School in Michigan City due to weather conditions. Children should follow their eLearning lesson plan, and teachers will be available from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. to answer questions.
• Many sporting events at La Porte County schools were canceled for Monday night and Tuesday due to weather conditions.
• The League of Women Voters of La Porte County has canceled its Dinner With The League at Patrick's Grille in Michigan City scheduled for Tuesday. A spokeswoman said it was the "first time we've ever had to cancel."
• Purdue University Northwest postponed a planned open forum with Richard Lapchick, director of the University of Central Florida DeVos Sports Business Management Program planned for Tuesday.
• Northern Indiana Public Service Co. was reporting outages across its service territory, with more than 3,000 outages in northern Lake County, though most were restored by Monday evening; and hundreds around Goshen. About 60 outages were reported in La Porte, but all were restored by Monday evening, and only a handful were reported across the rest of the county.