A winter storm is expected to move into the Chicago this afternoon, bringing with it snowfall rates of up to an inch an hour and gusty winds, making for a potentially messy afternoon commute and dangerous driving conditions into Sunday. Forecasters say the first storm will be followed by a period of lake-effect snow between late Saturday and midday Sunday, accompanied by continued gusty conditions, then a sharp drop in temperatures. You know what that means, get the shovel out or fire up the snow blower. Now for years I shoveled with the help (let’s qualify that as attempted help from my sons Mitchell and Spencer. The effort to simply get them out to start on the driveway was more than it took to clean it…if ya know what I mean.) Now the boys are long gone and I finally got a snow blower and it’s a good one so I’m still a bit like a kid with a new toy because I haven’t had to use it that much. There are many folks who just can’t shovel or plow any more or simply don’t want to. Ally Marriotti had great article in today’s Trib.
“LouAnne Ooton’s 86-year-old mother lives up on a hill in West Chicago. There’s a winding sidewalk that leads to a substantial driveway, all of which becomes treacherous when the snow falls. Ooton and her husband live nearby and used to shovel the snow. But now her husband is recovering from a heart attack, she’s not interested in doing it herself, and it’s too much to ask of a friend. Shoveling snow is a young person’s game, she said. “I’m 61,” Ooton said. “It doesn’t mean I’m ready for the grave, but the idea of picking up a shovel, that heavy (snow), in my peer group is just not very appealing anymore.” So instead of reaching for the shovel when a late November snowstorm dumped more than 7 inches of snow, Ooton reached for her smartphone. On-demand snow removal is gaining popularity in the Chicago area, as residents increasingly turn to apps to outsource daily tasks. Plowz & Mowz, the app Ooton used, gained 5,000 new users in the day after that November storm. Shovler, which lets people with their own shovels or snowblowers answer snow-removal requests that come in through the app, has about 10,000 users in the Chicago area. There are others, too, including a San Diego-based app called Lawn Love, which launched its snow-removal service in Chicago on Friday. The apps — not all of which are profitable — bet on repeat customers. If they need their driveway plowed in the winter, maybe they’ll need their yard mowed in the summer. Stacy Sobut used Plowz & Mowz last winter to hire someone to dig out the 16-car garage at her Back of the Yards condo building. “It was a huge snow,” she said. “Usually we can plow through it (with our cars), but I’m like, ‘There’s absolutely no way.’ ”
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