CHICAGO – In a city known for punishing mayors for their handling of snowstorms, Mayor Richard Daley was careful not to step in front of the cameras until the main streets were clear.
When he finally did Thursday, the mayor swiftly brushed aside any criticism of the city’s response to the blizzard that created a startling spectacle: hundreds of motorists stranded overnight on the city’s marquee thoroughfare.
So far, few fingers were pointed at Daley.
Instead, in typically self-effacing Midwestern fashion, some of the very drivers who got stuck on Lake Shore Drive acknowledged it was their fault for using the lakefront roadway in the first place.
Meanwhile, the storm left in its wake one final blow: a band of bitter cold spanning from New Mexico to the Great Lakes. Temperatures dropped into the single digits or lower, with wind chills that plunged to nearly minus 30 in some places.
The system dumped more than 20 inches of snow on Chicago, making it the third-largest winter storm in the city’s history.
The cleanup accelerated Thursday across the Midwest and East, but snow-covered roads remained treacherous.
Three people were killed when the pickup truck they were in skidded off a slick Oklahoma interstate and plunged into an icy river.
And in southeastern Michigan, three people in two pickup trucks were killed when one driver lost control on an icy highway and collided head-on with the other vehicle.