January 06, 2014

Streets Improve In C-U, County Roads Still Impassable

While road conditions are improving inside Champaign and Urbana city limits, authorities ask that travel not be attempted in rural areas.

Champaign County Emergency Management Spokesman Rick Atterberry said those roads remain impassable in most locations because of blowing and drifting snow and limited visibilities.   

He said there are hundreds of vehicles stuck in the county, slowing plowing operations, with drifts in some areas as high as eight feet. 

Atteberry said given the severe wind chills, getting trapped in a car in a rural area could be a life threatening situation.

He said Route 150 between Urbana and St. Joseph remains a major trouble spot as of late Monday morning.

“About 100 semi trucks ended up being stuck mid-afternoon to late afternoon Sunday, and they’re still there- while the state tries to get one lane open anyway, so that they can start moving those trucks," he said.  "It’s a slow go getting that untangled there.”

As of 10 a.m., Illinois State Police said Interstates 57, 72, and 74 are extremely dangerous with snow-packed drifts and icy patches. 

Meanwhile, warming centers are available at the Salvation Army Locations on Market Street and Prospect Avenue in Champaign, and at the Savoy United Methodist Church on Old Orchard Road.  

Savoy UMC Pastor Jim McClarey said it’s serving as a kind of an impromptu shelter for anyone who needs to get out of the cold, with about eight people staying there as of late Monday morning.

State-operated warming centers remain open in Champaign at 1307 N. Mattis Avenue, and 705 N. Country Fair Drive.  Another in Danville is operating at 407 N. Franklin Ave.

January 06, 2014

New Low For January 6 In Chicago

The bitter cold is shattering records in Illinois, including one in Chicago that's 120 years old.

The National Weather Service is Romeoville says the temperature sank to 16 degrees below zero on Monday morning at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. 

The wind chill made it feel far colder and the  temperature was continuing to fall.
The new record is two degrees lower than has ever been on Jan. 6. That record was reached just two times when it fell to 14 below zero in Chicago on Jan. 6 in 1894 and again in 1988.

January 06, 2014

Bloomington Man, 71, Dies After Clearing Snow

Central Illinois officials say a 71-year-old man died this weekend when he collapsed after clearing snow.

McLean County Coroner Beth Kimmerling says the Bloomington man died Sunday afternoon at his home. 

She said he'd been blowing snow for about 10 minutes when he came inside and collapsed.

Kimmerling said the man had heart problems that led to his collapse.

His name hasn't been released.

The National Weather Service says more than 7 inches of snow fell in Bloomington during the weekend snowstorm. 

January 05, 2014

"Winter Storm Ion" Hampers Travel, Causes Closings

An Emergency Management spokesman is advising against travel in Champaign County, as a winter storm moves through central and southeast Illinois on Sunday.

“As the snow continues to fall, winds begin to pick up and the temperature falls to below zero a very dangerous situation is developing”, wrote Champaign County EMA spokesman Rick Atterberry in an email to news media. Atterberry added that visibility outside Champaign-Urbana had become “very limited”.

Snow Emergency Routes have been activated in some towns, including Danville and Hoopeston.

The Illinois Department of Transportation reported that as of this morning, Winter Storm Ion was bringing snow, and in some cases, freezing rain, to a majority of the state.The heaviest snow is expected southeast of the Taylorville to Champaign line, with 5 to 9 inches of snow accumulation forecast for Champaign and Vermilion Counties. After the storm moves through, historically cold temperatures are expected throughout Illinois with temperatures to fall to 15 below zero and wind chills ranging from 35 to 45 below zero through Tuesday.

The National Weather Service has a Winter Storm Warning in effect until Sunday night at midnight. After that, a Wind Chill Warning is in effect until Tuesday at noon.  Counties covered by the warnings include Champaign, Vermilion, Piatt, DeWitt, Ford, Macon, Moultrie, Douglas and Coles Counties.

The forecast of the winter storm led several area churches to cancel their services Sunday morning. Now, additional agencies are canceling activities and closing their offices for Monday, when sub-zero temperatures are expected to follow the storm.

Urbana School District 116 has canceled classes for Monday. Classes at the Champaign Unit Four School District don’t resume until Wednesday, but the district has cancelled all other district activities and closed its offices for Monday --- except for an essential personnel group.

The Danville, Clinton, Monticello and Paxton-Buckley-Loda districts, and the Montessori School of Champaign-Urbana, have also announced the cancellation of Monday classes. The Mahomet-Seymour school district, which has no classes scheduled for Monday, has cancelled its Teachers' Institute for that day.

The Champaign Public Library and the Urbana Free Library are closed Sunday and Monday. The Mahomet Public Library is closed for Sunday. And the Danville and Tolono libraries are closed on Monday.

Courthouses are closed Monday in the Illinois 6th Judicial Circuit, which covers Champaign, Dewitt, Douglas, Macon, Moultrie and Piatt Counties.

In addition to its courthouse, Champaign County government has closed many county offices on Monday, including the Brookens Administrative Center and the Sheriff’s Administrative office.

Urbana city offices are mostly closed on Monday, and the Monday night Urbana City Council meeting has been canceled. The Champaign City Building and City of Champaign Township offices will also be closed.

In addition, offices of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District and Douglas County Health Department will be closed on Monday. The Developmental Services Center in Champaign has cancelled its programs for Monday.

A list of closings and weather notices coming into Illinois Public Media is available on this website, under the heading “Severe Weather Closings” on the top right-hand side.

January 03, 2014

Weather Prompts Closure To Sixth Judicial Circuit Monday

Monday’s forecast of subzero temperatures, wind and snow has prompted the closure of all courthouses in the 6th Judicial Circuit, including Champaign County.

Chief 6th District Judge Dan Flannel of Moultrie County made the announcement Friday afternoon.  That means all circuit court proceedings in Champaign, Dewitt, Douglas, Macon, Moultrie, and Piatt counties will be postponed, at least for a day.

Brian Kelly is the Chief Deputy for the Champaign County Circuit Clerk.  He said anyone scheduled for jury duty on Monday should be scheduled for Tuesday, but jurors are asked to call the courthouse’s automated line Monday evening to be sure.

But Kelly says re-scheduling court appearances will be a little more difficult.  He says anyone with a hearing scheduled for Jan. 6th will have to be rescheduled.

"It will take a little time for the courts to decide when their next open dates are to reset those dates."

Macon County Presiding Judge A.G. Webber encourages those who were scheduled to be in court Monday to check the circuit clerk website for updates.

Champaign County Sheriff Dan Walsh said he can recall three prior times during his 11 years in office that weather has forced the courthouse to close.  

Chief Judge Flannel said it's likely the first time that all courthouses in the circuit opted to close a few days in advance of severe weather.

"It's a situation where, particularly in the bigger counties, where they end up with people standing in line to get in in the mornings," he said.  "We just can't take that risk with these temperatures that are predicted.  I know Champaign County has the situation on Mondays frequently where they've got people lined up, going outside the doors.  We just can't have that."

The Champaign County Brookens Administrative Center will also be closed on Monday. 

January 03, 2014

Champaign Lifts One Snow Ordinance, Activates Another

The City of Champaign has de-activated its emergency snow routes, but activated its ordinance requiring Downtown and Campustown sidewalks to be cleared.

The sidewalk ordinance went into effect at 11 a.m. Friday.   It requires sidewalks to be cleared 48 hours after the declaration. 

Sidewalks must maintain a path the wide of the sidewalk or 48”, whichever is less.  Those not in compliance could be cleared at the owner’s expense.

As of 10:45 Friday morning, the prohibited parking ban on the following routes has been lifted:

-University Ave. from State St. to Mattis Ave.

-Church Street from State St. to Mattis Ave.

-State Street from Bradley Ave. to Kirby Ave.

-Randolph Street from Bradley Ave. to Hessel Blvd.

-Hessel Boulevard from State St. to Neil St.

January 02, 2014

Sub-Zero Temps Due In Central Illinois After Snow

A National Weather Service meteorologist based in central Illinois says the region should get ready for “some of the coldest air'' it's seen in a long time.

Meteorologist Ed Shimon says forecasts for central Illinois call for highs Monday and Tuesday at or just below zero.  Lows could drop to 12 or 13 degrees below zero at night.

The arctic blast is due just after a winter storm moved across the state, bringing snow totals between 3 and 5 inches to parts of central Illinois.

Shimon says wind-chill warnings haven't been issued yet, but probably will.  That means wind chills will be at 25 degrees below zero or colder in the region.

Snowfall in the region is to blame for one fatal crash near Decatur.  Illinois State Police say an east-bound car slid off Interstate-72, striking a draining culvert, and flipped upside down just before 9 p.m. Wednesday.  A passenger died, while the driver was treated for injuries.  No names have been released. 

Forecasters say some northern Illinois communities could get another eight inches of lake effect snow.  The National Weather Service says today’s lake effect snow could extend as far west as Joliet.

Chicago is expected to get another 4 to 6 inches, and some spots could get up to eight inches.   Forecasters say some areas of northern Illinois have already received more than 11 inches of snow.

December 15, 2013

Sidewalk Snow Removal Activated In Champaign, Urbana

Champaign city officials activated their Sidewalk Snow Removal Ordinance Sunday morning, following the 8 ½ inches of snow that fell Friday night through Saturday.

That means owners of property in the Downtown and Campustown districts of Champaign have until 9 AM Tuesday morning to clear their sidewalks of snow.

Rules for Emergency Snow Routes in Champaign were lifted Sunday evening at 7 PM, 11 hours after they were activated. During that period, on-street parking was banned on four arterial one-way streets in the city.

If you believe your vehicle was towed from one of the emergency snow routes (State, Randolph, Church or University) check with Public Works (217-403-4700) or Champaign Police Department (217-351-4545). Towed vehicles were relocated to the Champaign Police Department Parking lot (82 E. University). Vehicle owners are advised to have their vehicle license plate number and description available.

Meanwhile, as of 9:00am, Monday, December 16, 2013, the Urbana Public Works Director has declared the sidewalk snow and ice removal requirement in effect for the Downtown, University and South Philo Road snow removal districts.

City ordinance requires that public sidewalks, within the defined districts, be cleared by adjacent property owners within 24 hours after the Public Works Director’s declaration.  Sidewalks need to be cleared by 9:00am, Tuesday, December 17.

December 06, 2013

Winter Storm Cancels Classes At SIU

Classes at Southern Illinois University are canceled because of a storm that's left a slick layer of ice under several inches of snow, with more wintry weather on the way.

WSIU Radio reports that some services at the 18,000-student Carbondale university were to remain open Friday, including dining services for students, the Morris Library and the student recreation center.
University administrators called off Friday's classes because of questionable driving conditions.
National Weather Service forecasters say parts of the region could get a foot of snow by the time a storm moves through the region.
UPDATE:  Snow is falling in parts of southern Illinois Friday aftrnoon, and forecasters say parts of the region could get as much as a foot and a half of snow by the time a wintry storm moves through the region.
The National Weather Service in Paducah, Ky. says portions of southern Illinois are also expected to receive up to a quarter-inch of ice.
Forecasters say areas south of Interstate 70 are bearing the brunt of the storm. A state of emergency has been declared for Jackson County, home to Murphysboro and Carbondale, where some secondary roads are impassable.
Illinois State Police have responded to dozens of accidents and officials in Franklin county are warning drivers to stay off the roads.

November 27, 2013

Fifteen Illinois Counties Approved For Federal Disaster Assistance

Fifteen Illinois counties, including Champaign, Douglas, and Vermilion, have been granted federal disaster declarations after tornadoes hit large portions of the state on November 17.

The declaration was announced in press releases late Tuesday from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn’s office, a day after the governor and Illinois’ congressional delegation submitted the request.

The assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and homeowners recover from the effects of the disaster.

“We will begin working immdediately with the federal government to ensure tornado victims can get needed help as quickly as possible,” said Jonathon Monken, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

“Just days before Thanksgiving this is good news for thousands of people in Illinois who have suffered so much,” said Gov. Quinn.  “I thank President Obama for his swift approval that will bring much-needed federal relief to those who desperately need it in the wake of these deadly storms.”

Donald Keldsen, the Federal Coordinating Officer for recovery operations, said that damage surveys are continuing in other areas, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after assessments are fully completed.

The other counties in the declarations are Fayette, Grundy, Jasper, La Salle, Massac, Pope, Tazewell, Wabash, Washington, Wayne, Will and Woodford.

At least 24 tornadoes were reported on Nov. 17.   The request detailed the impact the storms had on communities, including damage to at least 2,441 homes.

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