The Chicago Kennedy Expressway was closed Sunday after extreme snow and windy conditions led to a 40-car pileup that brought traffic to a halt and sent 12 people to the hospital.
The chain-reaction crash took place at 10:15 a.m. Sunday on the inbound express lanes of the Kennedy Expressway, between North Avenue and Ohio Street. Officials said the crash was caused by snowy conditions and was made worse by the fact that there are no shoulders on the express lanes.
Chicago officials closed the Kennedy Expressway for most of the day while the accident scene was cleaned up. Medics at the scene treated more than 70 people, with 12 going to area hospitals and an additional 59 refusing medical treatment at the scene.
The storms caused havoc across Chicago, with snow clogging roadways and grinding traffic to a halt in places. The city’s Department of Streets and Sanitation had close to 300 snow plows out, clearing snow and laying down salt. But it was an uphill battle, with lake effect snow continuing to accumulate throughout the day.
The National Weather Services called for accumulations of only 1 or 2 inches, but strong wind that could reduce visibility to almost zero.
The heavy snows also led to flight cancellations at airports in Chicago, with officials saying more than 100 flights were cancelled at O’Hare International Airport and another 35 at Midway International Airport. Many other flights were delayed during the worst of the storm.
The Chicago Kennedy Expressway wasn’t the only major road closed due to the extreme weather conditions. In other areas of the midwest, snowstorms and wind gusts of up to 40 miles per hour led to whiteout conditions, causing pileups, including one in Indiana that killed a child.
“It’s pretty bad out there,” Sgt. Tony Slocum said.
“The snow wasn’t deep. The roads were covered, but that wasn’t the issue. The issue was visibility.”
The Chicago Kennedy Expressway remained closed for most of the day Sunday, opening just before 6 p.m.
[Image via Chicago Tribune]