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Welcome to winter

Snow and wind create blizzard conditions, make travel a challenge

Published: Friday, Dec. 21, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT
(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukval)
A blizzard rolled through the area Thursday afternoon, knocking down power lines and toppling this tree at 1710 13th Ave. in Rock Falls.
(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukval)
For the first time in a long time, snow plow took to the streets and parking lots Thursday, clearing the way for motorists.
(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukval)
A power pole hangs by its lines as a Sterling firefighter works at the scene on 29th Street. The downed pole cut off power at the PADS homeless shelter in Sterling for a time.

Heavy, wet snow pelted the Sauk Valley on Thursday.

The intense Midwestern storm – named Draco by the Weather Channel – blew through the area, bringing rain and wind in the morning, then sleet, snow and gusting wind by the afternoon and into the evening.

A blizzard warning was in effect until midnight.

Accumulations of 4 to 6 inches of snow – and as much as 6 to 8 inches north of Interstate 80 – were expected in the Quad Cities and into Sterling, Rock Falls and up to Mount Carroll. Accumulations of 6 to 9 inches were expected from Rockford to Oregon and Dixon.

Blizzard conditions – with blowing snow and visibility estimated at less than a quarter mile at times – made driving tricky.

By 6 p.m., local law enforcement had reported no major accidents or other incidents.

Sterling police officer Josh Reese said the department responded to an accident in a parking lot and a few stalled vehicles.

“We kind of lucked out,” he said.

Whiteside County Sheriff Kelly Wilhelmi said by 3:30 p.m. a couple dozen cars had slid off the road and into ditches throughout the county.

A box trailer being driven out of Morrison on U.S. Route 30 near Bishop Road was knocked over by the wind, blocking the eastbound lane of traffic, he said.

A man was thrown from his car when it flipped north of Fulton, Wilhelmi said. He did not have any more details on the crash or the man’s condition.

Neither Dixon nor Lee County reported any accidents or other incidents.

The heavy snow and gusting wind knocked down utility poles and caused short power outages in several places across the area.

A utility pole hung by its wires near the PADS homeless shelter in Sterling. A tree toppled onto a house in Rock Falls. And the horizontally-hanging stoplights bobbed up and down like children on a seesaw along Lincolnway in Sterling.

Dave Pilgrim, shift supervisor for the Rock Falls Police Department, said the power was back on to most of the city by about 5:30 p.m.

“ComEd lost a feeder line east of town that put us out until they could reroute everything,” he said.

SVM reporter Tara Becker contributed to this story.

Sunny but cold weekend ahead

The winter storm was expected to move east Thursday night and make way for sunshine but much lower temperatures for the weekend.

Today brings temperatures in the mid-20s with winds of more than 20 mph. Saturday and Sunday will be sunny with temperatures in the upper 20s to low 30s.

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