Three people died and more than 20 were injured — including one critically — in the crash Thursday on a snowy stretch of eastbound Interstate 94 in northwestern Indiana. At least one person was trapped in a vehicle for hours before authorities could come to the rescue, Indiana State Police said.Snow and whiteout conditions were contributing factors, state police said. A band of heavy lake-effect snow was reported Thursday afternoon when the pileup began, dropping 1 to 2 inches of snow per hour and reducing visibility to a quarter-mile or less, National Weather Service meteorologist Evan Bentley said.The eastbound lanes of I-94 were closed through the night as cranes and wreckers helped clear the scene. State police Cpl. Daniel Becker said the eastbound lanes remained closed Friday morning and it could be several more hours before the numerous semitrailers and other vehicles would be cleared.State police scheduled a news conference later Friday morning during which officials expected to release identities of the victims.Photos showed semitrailers and mangled passenger vehicles jammed together the width of the highway near an overpass. Some passenger cars were sandwiched in the wreckage. I-94 is a main highway heading east from Chicago to Michigan and Indiana, and the crash happened near Michigan City, about 60 miles from Chicago.Raw: 3 Dead, at Least 20 Hurt in Indiana Pileup Play videoDrivers stuck in the backup could only wait and try to stay warm as temperatures hovered around 10 degrees.Stacey Johnson, 37, had a family emergency and was traveling from western Michigan to Tennessee with her three sons, ages 3, 9 and 10. She told The Associated Press she’d researched road conditions before leaving because she was worried about the weather. She didn’t know about the accident until traffic started crawling and then stopped.Nearly five hours later, long after she’d planned to stop for dinner, her car was still sitting on the westbound side of the highway. A woman in the car next to hers noticed she had children with her and offered cereal, popcorn and fruit to tide them over.Scott Collins, 17, of Chesterton, Ind., was riding in a car with three other teens and saw the crash happen just behind them.”One of the semis started sliding and I think it jackknifed in the middle of the road” and collided with another semi, he said. „After that happened, multiple semis locked up. … We were pretty nervous.”Indiana State Police Sgt. Ann Wojas said 20 to 30 people were injured, including one with life-threatening injuries and another who was flown by medical helicopter to a hospital.Franciscan St. Anthony Health in Michigan City had received at least 10 patients, hospital president Dr. Jim Callaghan said. Six people were taken to IU Health LaPorte Hospital, a nursing supervisor said. Porter Regional Hospital also received patients, Wojas said.Police said city buses were brought in to warm stranded motorists and transport the injured, though Johnson said she hadn’t seen them. But she felt fortunate that she’d gotten gas before leaving Michigan.”If it weren’t for the fact that I have a full tank and a safe car, this could be a really dangerous situation,” she said.
Snowy Super Bowl? Too Early to Make the Call
Large swathes of the picturesque town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, were reduced to rubble after a runaway freight train carrying crude oil crashed and derailed in July last year.”In the course of our Lac-Megantic investigation, we found three critical weaknesses in the North American rail system which must be urgently addressed,” said Wendy Tadros, chair of Canada’s Transportation Safety Board (TSB).”Today we are making three recommendations — calling for tougher standards for Class 111 tank cars; route planning and analysis; and emergency response assistance plans.”The statement was jointly issued by the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).Their recommendations on tanker cars have been sent to Transport Canada and the US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, for consideration.The structural integrity of so-called DOT 111 tank cars involved in the Lac-Megantic tragedy came under scrutiny following the accident, after it emerged the US Department of Transportation had identified safety flaws in the early 1990s.A large number remain in service throughout the continent.Tadros acknowledged that tanker car upgrades are already underway, and tougher standards are now in place for new models.But she added, „a long and gradual phaseout of older model cars simply isn’t good enough.”It leaves too much risk in the system,” she told a nationally televised press conference.The TSB also urged Canadian railways to identify and choose routes „with the least risk” when transporting dangerous goods.This means „changing how the trains are operated and lines are maintained, asking questions like how much product is being shipped? Are the tracks appropriate? Can populated areas be avoided? And are there environmental sensitivities?” Tadros said.Finally, the TSB urged better emergency response planning in Canada.According to rail industry figures cited by the TSB and NTSB, the number of carloads of crude oil shipped by rail in Canada has increased from 500 in 2009 to 160,000 last year.In the United States, the number rose from 10,800 to 400,000 during the same period.
Snow days in New York City
By Becky Kellogg Published: Jan 23, 2014, 11:05 AM EST weather.com1 / 10
On Jan. 23-24, 2014, Winter Storm Kronos brought snow, sleet and freezing rain into parts of central and east Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. We have the storm reports, photos and video from this storm.
Alan Raymond and Jon Erdman Published: Jan 24, 2014, 7:06 AM EST weather.com