An early winter storm on Sunday set records, closed schools and government offices, and left scores of vehicles stranded in roadways and ditches across Ogle County.
The heavy snowfall and strong winds created blizzard conditions across much of northern Illinois, leaving some roads in the county still impassable on Monday morning.
Sheriff Brian VanVickle said from Sunday evening into Monday morning, 198 vehicles were stranded in roadways and ditches.
“The ground wasn’t frozen, so if you slid off the road you were stuck, and it was a nasty slushy snow,” he said. “It was a long day and it didn’t end until Monday morning.”
The stuck vehicles included township and state snowplows.
Eighty vehicles remained stranded Monday morning, many of them in the middle of the roads, VanVickle said.
The much-predicted storm began with drizzle around 8 a.m. Sunday that soon turned to large moisture-laden flakes.
The snow increased in intensity throughout the afternoon and evening, leaving behind a foot or more of snow by the time it ended in the early hours on Monday.
Drivers experienced increasingly slippery roads by mid-afternoon, compounded by decreasing visibility by early evening.
Parts of Ill. 26 and Ill. 64 were closed due to the extreme snow conditions.
The Illinois Department of Transportation closed the highways from Mt. Morris to Carroll County after several vehicles got stuck on the snowy roadways.
Portions of Ill. 72 were also closed.
Several motorists were left stranded in their vehicles after the roads were closed, VanVickle said.
Deputies driving the department’s six-wheel drive armored vehicle rescued 13 people and took them to safety.
“Some opted to spend the night in their cars, and we checked on them throughout the night,” he said.
County deputies stopped calling out tow trucks Sunday night, because it created only more hazards for other motorists, deputies, and tow drivers.
“If your vehicles goes into the ditch, it will be left there,” the sheriff department’s Facebook posting read.
Ogle County Highway Engineer Jeremy Ciesiel said the icy road surfaces under the heavy snow, along with high winds made it impossible to keep the roads clear.
“It was white-out conditions in the evening which made it very difficult,” he said.
The county’s snowplows stopped their efforts around 7 p.m. Sunday, Ciesiel said, and several drivers spent the night at the highway department office to be sure they would be there to begin again at 3 a.m. on Monday.
Some plows ended up getting stuck when they went back out.
“The blizzard conditions created large drifts that snowplows couldn’t get through which made it necessary to use our heavy equipment,” Ciesiel said.
Vehicles still stranded in the roadways further complicated plowing.
“We cleared as much as we could until they were removed,” he said.
Snowplow drivers were out again on Tuesday morning, still pushing back snow and slush.
Schools and government offices in Ogle and several other surrounding counties were closed on Monday, allowing time for the roads to be cleared.
The storm barreled out of the Rocky Mountains, across Kansas and then into Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin before heading into Indiana and Michigan and on to the northeastern states.
In the local area, most snowfall totals were in the one-foot range, making it the snowiest November on record with five days to go.
The storm also produced the most ever snow on a single day in November in the region.
While most places in northern Illinois were buried in snow, the storm left the northwestern corner of the state unscathed with no snowfall reported in some places, including Lena.