CHAMPAIGN — The city activated its emergency snow routes Thursday afternoon and is giving residents until 1 a.m. on Friday to removed parked cars from the special routes.
The affected streets are:
— University Avenue from State Street to Mattis Avenue
— Church Street from State Street to Mattis Avenue
— State Street from Bradley Avenue to Kirby Avenue
— Randolph Street from Bradley Avenue to Hessel Boulevard
Vehicles remaining on those streets after 1 a.m. Friday will be towed at the owner's expense to the north parking lot of the Champaign Police Department.
The city has not yet activated its sidewalk snow removal ordinance but may still consider doing so, said public works spokesman Kris Koester. In the meantime, public works crews are focusing on trying to clear snow off the streets as they expect more to fall this weekend.
The city of Urbana has not yet activated its sidewalk snow removal ordinance.
It may not look that bad out there but local experts in snow removal remind the driving public of the obvious: Slow down. There’s still a lot of snow on those roads.
The first snowfall of 2014 claimed the life of one person in Macon County just before 9 p.m. Wednesday. An eastbound car driver on Interstate 72 lost control on the snow-covered roadway, went down an embankment and flipped upside down. A passenger was killed, and the driver, 56 year-old Maureen Ryan of Decatur, was ticketed for going too fast for conditions. Macon County Coroner Michael Day identified the victim as 70 year-old Linda Walser of Decatur.
“It’s terrible out there,” said Tracy Wingler Thursday morning.
The Champaign County maintenance supervisor and veteran of many winter wonderland events said his crews have been out since 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday and will likely be at it round the clock for a while.
“It looks like we’re going to be battling this all weekend. We do have a lot of blowing and drifting. There a lot of dry pavement where the snow is blowing across but other areas where it’s starting to accumulate on the roads,” he said.
Wingler has eight trucks out and they are keeping up as best they can.
In Urbana, John Collins, public works operations manager said the primary, secondary and business routes were in pretty good shape this morning and some had moved into residential areas.
They were planning to do residential areas until noon, then move back to the primary, secondary and business routes to continue cleaning those up before moving back to residential routes later this afternoon.
Urbana’s crews started at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
“We haven’t quit yet. We have a lot of prep to get ready for the one that’s supposed to be coming this weekend,” Collins said.
Illinois State Police reported about 10 accidents since last night in the nine-county District 10. Only the one in Macon County involving the death was considered serious.
Champaign County sheriff’s Sgt. Jeff Vercler said there were no accidents on the overnight shift but that the road conditions were poor.
Lt. Bob Fitzgerald in Urbana reported only one minor accident.
“People are being cautious,” he said. “A lot of people are off today. Stay inside.”
Champaign have had snow removal crews out since 3 p.m. Wednesday, according to Kris Koester of the public works department, and planned to keep them on the streets until at least 11:15 p.m. Thursday.
"We have seen a lot of blowing and drifting. We're plowing streets and the wind is blowing it right back on," he said this morning.
Crews had done some work in residential areas but the wind was making the primary routes a priority, he said.
Meanwhile, a Central Illinois meteorologist said the Champaign-Urbana area can expect sub-zero temperatures on Thursday night, but residents should watch out for even colder temperatures next week. And that's not even with the wind chill factored in.
Chris Miller with the National Weather Service in Lincoln said the high on Monday is forecast to be minus five degrees with overnight temperatures dropping to around 10 below zero. He added that the high temperature for Tuesday is expected to be zero with overnight temperatures dropping to minus five.
Miller warned that our area is expected to get snow on Sunday, and the more snow there is, the colder the temperatures will be on Monday.
Meanwhile, Miller said that temperatures Thursday night could drop to negative three degrees. He also said the last time Champaign-Urbana has experienced a high temperature below zero was five years ago on January 15th, 2009, when the high reached negative three degrees.
Michael Kiser, Kimberly Schofield and Carol Vorel contributed to this report.