Chicago Blizzard

I know it's been months since this storm actually hit Chicago, but this is a new blog so stop complaining! Besides I've been dieing to post these on something more profession than Facebook. So over this wonderfully warm weekend I thought this would be a nice reminder and farewell to Chicago's photogenic winter. This was by far the most fun I've ever had photographing a storm. Usually when I go out in winter I'm too worried about breaking my equipment to shoot when it's really coming down. When I heard this record breaking weather was approaching I just couldn't resist!

When the storm first started I actually managed to convince a few people to come out with me for the adventure. We first went out to a few neighborhoods and then to Belmont Harbor to see what the lake looked like when being hit with the insane winds. Within a few minutes of being out in the elements my buddy Ashton and my girlfriend Julia realized they would be much happier watching the storm from a nice warm apartment with a hot cup of tea. Since I have this knack for making the wrong decision, I of course told them there was no way I could call it a night. I dropped them off and then I went back out to see what kind of photos I could capture.

After wandering through the Loop for a few hours I got a text from Julia saying that people were beginning to get stranded on Lake Shore Dr. So like a complete fool I hopped in my car and headed right over. (In case you're wondering I have a Jeep and that's the only reason I was able to get around.) Once I realized that getting past the North Ave on ramp was going to be almost impossible I pulled over and started walking. I only had to go a few yards before I saw the first car stuck in the snow on the off ramp from L.S.D. What really made it interesting was that I wasn't the only one who decided to wander outside. I ran into a group of guys that wanted to get a glimpse of the waves on Lake Michigan, but when they saw all of the cars stranded in the snow they started digging people out and pushing them through the banks.

We had a simple routine, we would push/dig-out cars until we were too covered in snow to function, then we would run into a bus to warm up. Those buses were awful, they were too huge to push and stuck all over the road, but they were like an oasis for us. Mainly it gave me a place to defrost my camera and clear the ice out of the buttons. Despite the weather and the bullshit, people were smiling and laughing the whole time. The guys (I never did get their names) kept joking and never rested long enough to stop the flow of cars.

Sometime around midnight the fire department showed up and gave us a hand clearing the road and moving people along. It couldn't have been an hour before we realized that is was a lost cause. The snow was coming in too fast and the wind was getting so strong that any exposed skin was stinging with each snow flake that hit. Then I noticed that my camera was really malfunctioning. All of that snow and ice building up inside of my lens and ever other nook it could find finally started to leak into my camera body. I decided it was time for me to put away the camera and head home before the roads were too awful even for my Jeep. Needless to say it was one hell of a night!

Lessons Learned:

- Buying wind resistant gloves does not compensate for a lack of winter clothing.

- Never go out in a blizzard without a cover for your camera!

- Don't leave your hazard lights on when you're going to be gone for a few hours. (luckily a CTA guy was nice enough to give me a jump)

- Never jump in the air when wind gusts are up to 50 or 60MPH, my knee still feels goofy from that landing.


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PS - What did you do during the storm? If you have a good story I'd love to hear it.

PPS - Expect plenty more storm photos with the new season!