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Janet Martinez (right), 15, and her sisters Monica (left), 5, and Nancy (center), 6, build multiple snowmen in their front yard in Oglesby on Tuesday during a no-school snow day. The sisters attend La Salle-Peru Township High School and Oglesby Lincoln.
Dr. John Lavieri of La Salle observed about 7 inches of snow in his driveway last night when he dusted off his snow-blower for only the second or third time this season.
And this morning, he needed only a few minutes of scraping to deal with the last of Winter Storm Saturn, which turned the Illinois Valley into a winter wonderland but left the roads largely passable.
“It was what was forecast,” Lavieri shrugged, but then laughingly added, “which is probably unexpected.”
Indeed, the weatherman just about nailed this one. Saturn arrived a little behind schedule — at 3 a.m. Tuesday instead of midnight — but as predicted hovered over the Illinois Valley for the better part of a day and dumped at least half a foot across the Illinois Valley.
Snowfall totals varied throughout the area, with 11 inches recorded in Streator and deeper drifts reported in southern La Salle County than in La Salle-Peru.
Fortunately, there was sufficient advance warning for superintendents to close schools, parents to stock up on milk and bread, and motorists to gas up and tweak their itineraries.
Trooper Craig Graham, spokesman for District 17 state police in La Salle, reported just one accident: A car-semi collision on Interstate 39 west of Streator that resulted in no injuries.
“Other than that it was pretty uneventful,” he said.
“The temperature really helped us out a lot and the great crew from IDOT was able to keep up with it,” Graham said, noting the daytime snow seemed to melt as quickly as it fell. “If everybody takes their time (today) and are careful, there shouldn’t be any problems.”
The dispatcher at one local towing company confirmed there have been busier days, and messier conditions, than were observed Tuesday.
“It’s been pretty steady, but not too crazy,” said Angie Senica of Senica Interstate Towing in La Salle. “I think with the closings, everybody’s been off the road. But it’s been a prosperous day.”
Illinois Valley Community Hospital in Peru reported an early-morning crash that resulted in three injuries (all treated and released) but no strained backs or missing fingers due to snow removal.
Criminals appear to have stayed out of the snow. La Salle County Jail reported just three new arrests — all suspects bonded out — and local police reported limited activity on the morning blotters.
“It was extremely quiet,” Peru police chief Doug Bernabei said this morning. “Since 9 o’clock last night we’ve had a handful of motorist-assist calls, a lost dog and that is it.” Schoolchildren enjoyed a rare — at least for this season — snow day Tuesday, with all local schools canceling classes.
Most schools resumed classes today, though icy country roads appear to have forced cancellations at Fieldcrest and Henry-Senachwine schools while Tonica closed due to a heat problem. Princeton Elementary and Princeton High schools announced one-hour delayed openings.
Local schoolchildren enjoyed the break by hitting the slopes. Ten-year-old Luke Carus and 9-year-old Gunnar Jauch spent their day off sledding down McKinley Hill in Peru — “It’s bumpy,” Luke said of his first seasonal descent — joined by many more children bearing sleds and inflatable tubes.
If you feel like sledding or cross-country skiing, get it done now: The snow might not stick around long.
Andrew Krein, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, predicted most of the snow will melt or be washed away as the temperature rises and snow gives way to rain. “We should be into the 40s — maybe the upper 40s — Saturday and Sunday, which should lead to some snow melt,” Krein said. “With the combination of rain and snow melt, it could be sloppy this weekend.”
That should make the farmers happy. A rainy winter (4½ inches in the first 50 days of the year) has helped alleviate the lingering drought, but Matt Bangert of Vermilion Township recently wished for another 6 to 10 inches to rejuvenate his arid subsoil. “It’s definitely helped us,” Bangert said of Tuesday’s snowfall.
Folks out east probably won’t be as pleased. The Associated Press reports Saturn has now moved onto Washington, D.C., where the storm has been cheekily dubbed a “snowquester” — a play on the $85 billion “sequester,” or potential cuts following a failed agreement on the national deficit.
The “snowquester” has shut down government offices just as the budget cuts threaten to do. Saturn was expected to dump 5 to 11 inches of snow in Washington and Baltimore by tonight.
NewsTribune reporter Alicia LeGrand assisted in this story. Tom Collins can be reached at (815) 220-6930 or email@example.com.