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Chicago Digs Out From Winter Storms That Have Left Multiple Feet Of Snow

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The recent snowstorm that hit the country also walloped Chicago, where people are still digging out. WBEZ's Michael Puente reports.

MICHAEL PUENTE, BYLINE: Michael Polovina has lived and driven through some tough snowstorms in Chicago.

MICHAEL POLOVINA: Ranks up there with, like, the 1979 one. And it was the most challenging I've ever ridden. It's a lot of snow even for Chicago.

PUENTE: And some of that snow is on top of one of Polovina's cars. The car is buried under several feet of snow in his neighborhood on Chicago's far southeast side.

POLOVINA: I have to use the other one to work 'cause I can't. That's too much, you know?

PUENTE: Yeah.

POLOVINA: So we just do one at a time. We've - also have a car in the garage where we got to shovel, too.

PUENTE: A few miles away, Adolfo Villa wasn't very much better.

ADOLFO VILLA: I've been doing it four days in a row.

PUENTE: It in this case is removing snow from the sidewalks. He's been shoveling snow and sometimes using a snow blower to clear the way for more elderly neighbors. But the job doesn't ever seem to get done. Villa, however, doesn't feel bad for himself. He's thinking of those elsewhere.

VILLA: It's pretty bad 'cause right now, it's all over the United - everywhere, even in Mexico down there. And I feel sorry for the people because they didn't got the right - installed the right equipment like heaters and all their space heater. Look in Texas what happened right now.

PUENTE: Much of the snow in Chicago that fell was so-called lake effect snow - wind and moisture off Lake Michigan teaming up to cause havoc, like roofs collapsing. Chicago officials say the roofs of several abandoned buildings have fallen in due to the heavy snow. That's something resident Martin Valadez is also keeping a close eye on.

MARTIN VALADEZ: It was blowing off the lake. A lot of snow was coming. And yeah, you got to worry about the roofs, too. It's all collecting on the roofs and the icicles messing up the gutters, that kind of thing. But I think it's going to get warmer, and things are going to melt.

TOM SKILLING: Don't write off additional snow yet. We may have another snow Sunday afternoon and night.

PUENTE: That's longtime WGN weatherman Tom Skilling, a Chicago icon who has been forecasting the weather for the Chicago region for more than four decades.

SKILLING: We've had, at Midway Airport, over 40 inches of snow, total, in the last two weeks.

PUENTE: Skilling says the region was having a very mild winter, with temps above normal in December and January.

SKILLING: About two weeks ago - and bam - the cold air hit. We put together nine consecutive days of measurable snow. That ties for the most consecutive days of measurable snow. And another stat - it snowed 11 of the past 13 days here in Chicago.

PUENTE: Digging out a car isn't something Chicago resident Michael Burton had to do. Whether it's summer or winter, Burton bikes to work, as he did two days ago during the snowstorm.

MICHAEL BURTON: On my way to work, and I'm headed to the Bloomingdale Trail, which is sort of a nice highway in the winter, any time of year, especially the winter 'cause it's cleared a lot. And it's great for biking.

PUENTE: Burton says if you have a bike and some basic winter clothing, you can bike during the winter. He recommends not overdressing. Instead, use a layered approach and wear boots. For those who need to drive, not to worry. After this weekend, Chicago weatherman Tom Skilling says to look for that warmup.

For NPR News, I'm Michael Puente in Chicago.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.