LOMBARD – The first week of 2014 brought snow storms, record-setting low temperatures, school closures, icy roads, stranded motorists and constant headaches for local road crews and first responders.
"We've had crews working around the clock responding to snow removal and the routine work that goes on," Carl Goldsmith, director of the Lombard Public Works Department, said Tuesday. "We've been busy."
Two snow storms – one from Dec. 31 to Jan. 2 and a second from Saturday to Sunday – were followed by a Polar Vortex, which was responsible for temperatures plummeting well below zero degrees. The extreme cold caused area districts, including Glenbard High School District 87 and Lombard Elementary District 44, to cancel school Monday and Tuesday.
With the expected warm-up slated for this weekend, including highs near 40 degrees, the public works department has already dispatched crews to open catch basins and clear a path for the rainwater and meltwater to flow, Goldsmith said.
“We are cognizant of the warm up and the potential for rain and freezing rain,” he said.
Aside from public works crews and residents, local businesses felt the sting of the icy temperatures, as well.
Theresa Brzezinski, general manager at Shannon's Corner Butcher Shoppe & Deli, 15 S. Park Ave., said the store closed early both Monday and Tuesday for the safety of its employees.
“We stayed open until 2 p.m. on Monday to get those who went to work through lunch, and then we closed at 5 p.m. on Tuesday when we usually close at 7 p.m.,” Brzezinski said.
“We've seen a decrease in business, but it's also January, so it's a double-edged sword.”
Brzezinski said she's looking forward to the weekend warm-up, adding that she's taken calls from customers who plan to grill this weekend to celebrate the expected 50-degree temperature swing.
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By the numbers
Carl Goldsmith, director of the Lombard Public Works Department, breaks down the numbers associated with the extreme weather.
20: Inches of total snowfall reported in Lombard during the two snow storms, 13 inches in the first storm and 7 more over the weekend
300: Estimated tons of salt used on village streets
30: Estimated vehicle crashes reported
12: Hours per shift for public works crews; 15 public works employees were scheduled during day hours and 12 on the night shift
34: Fleet vehicles used by public works, including front-end loaders
-16: Lowest temperature reported in Lombard
-23: Lowest wind chill index reported in Lombard