Freak November Snowstorm Causes Traffic Turmoil in South Bend Area

Snow-on-Street

Commuters struggled to make it to work and school on Thursday morning after a freak November snowstorm dumped over six inches of snow through mid-afternoon on parts of South Bend and Mishawaka.

“Downtown South Bend is horrible,” said Kristen Calleja of South Bend. “I was stuck for an hour on Michigan Street this morning just going from Sample Street to the hospital.”

South Bend accumulated over a foot of snow by late night hours on Thursday, easily smashing a one-day record for the city.

The high snow totals created hazardous road conditions for area drivers. The roads were so bad in South Bend that the city’s public transportation system — Transpo — was shut down until noon.

The weather was bad enough that South Bend Community Schools was forced to cancel all after-school activities.

Drivers complained throughout the day about unplowed and icy roads in both South Bend and Mishawaka.

“It’s slick as hell everywhere,” South Bend resident Caity Kirkham told us. “They need to salt more often while the snow’s coming down so the ice doesn’t build up, and throw sand down once the snow stops.”

Conditions did not improve much during rush hour when a second line of heavy lake effect snow bore down on the region.

The South Bend Police Department reported that there were 143 total crashes with 7 injuries as of 6:15 pm on Thursday.

The mayor’s office called the snowstorm a “freak occurrence” that was not predicted. The city relies on local weather reports to make personnel and equipment decisions. Those reports were saying that the city would receive anywhere from a coating to a couple inches.

“This time of year much of the city’s equipment is still configured for leaf pickup. Some vehicles were out last night and this morning, but fewer than normal because many were still working on November leaves. The trucks can be reconfigured for snow instead of leaves, but converting them is a delay. To get snow this early in the season, and to have it come in much stronger than forecasted, made it harder for our crews to adapt. Usually, if we do have surprise snow, it’s deep enough into winter that our vehicles and crews are already set up for the snow removal mission and can activate more quickly.”

Still, the mayor’s office says that the city needs to be better prepared in the future.

“We need to be prepared for anything. Mayor Buttigieg has requested an after-action review so we can assess lessons learned and be better prepared in the future,” city spokesperson Kara Kelly told the South Bend Voice.

More snow is expected through the morning hours on Friday. A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for the area until 12 pm EST Friday afternoon.

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