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Winter storm slows down Daviess County

Washington Times-Herald, Ind. — Mike Grant and Kristi Sanders Washington Washington Times-Herald, Ind.

Jan. 12--A powerful storm system that produced massive mudslides in California and is expected to dump large amounts of snow on America's east coast pounded through southern Indiana Friday. The storm began with rain, switched to freezing rain and sleet and wound up dropping a couple of inches of snow on the area. It closed schools, sent road crews into overtime and slowed most of the community to a crawl.

"From the Vincennes area, I have a report of three-tenths of sleet and ice at 7 a.m. (Friday morning)," Kacie Hoover, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said. "Less than 2 inches of snow on top of the ice is all that is expected for the area."

The combination of ice and snow made for some hazardous travel conditions around Daviess County.

"From reporting that we are getting, roads are ice and sleet covered," Daviess County Emergency Management Agency Director Scott Myers said. "They are slick, but drivable with extreme caution."

Those slick roads conditions are causing hazards.

"There was one accident on I-69," Myers said who spoke with the Times Herald Friday. "Roads are snow covered and temperatures are warm enough to melt some of the ice during the day. "We got more sleet than freezing rain, so the ice accumulation wasn't as high as predicted. The sleet makes a slick road surface, but doesn't affect power lines."

Police report that while there were several minor accidents as a result of the weather, for the most part, motorists seemed to handle the poor conditions well.

"It really hasn't been that bad in terms of the number of accidents," said Daviess County Chief Deputy Gary Allison. "You know, we hadn't had a winter storm in a couple of years and usually when that happens, you end up with a lot of accidents on the first day, but that didn't happen this time. People were driving slow and taking it easy. We did have a few ambulance runs to deal with people who had fallen."

For road and street crews the snow and ice made for a lot of work. "We got our crews out on the streets around 4 a.m.," said Washington Street Superintendent Bryan Sergesketter. "It's been a long day and the guys have been working nonstop."

Washington crews began putting down sand and ice-melt. "We have enough on it to make it slushy," said Sergesketter. "Our plan is to start pushing it off the streets once the snow ends."

With the snow down to slush and temperatures forecasted to hit the low teens, city crews wanted to push the snow off the roads before it could refreeze. "We have guys working and some on standby so that we can keep at it until the job is done," he said.

Sergesketter says the city tried to be proactive with the winter weather. "We went through all of the trucks and equipment recently," he said. "We had very few breakdowns and our salt and sand supplies are good."

Because the storm rolled in with rain, Daviess County crews had to adjust their approach.

"We like to pretreat the roads, but that wouldn't do any good with the rain," said Daviess County Highway Supervisor Phil Cornelius. "Our crews hit the roads around 5 a.m. but with the continual precipitation it was hard to make a lot of headway. We put down a lot of salt and sand and it helped, but mostly it has been miserable just trying to keep up."

The plan was for the county crews to work until around 7:30 p.m. and try to move as much snow as possible off the roads. "The problem is that the temperatures are expected to drop and the wind will pick up to around 20 miles per hour so that may cause some drifting."

The county plans to have crews out working over the weekend. "We're just asking that the public give our trucks plenty of space and that the motorists leave early for their destination and take their time on the road," said Cornelius.

Cold temperatures could leave the roads icy for most of the weekend and southern Indiana could get another round of snow early next week.

"We have another chance of snow on Monday," Hoover said. "Probably another couple of inches that day."

Residents got ready

Many residents got ready for the storm Thursday evening by stocking up on staple items.

"It has been pretty busy the past couple of days," Josh Norman, JayC Food Store manager, said. "They have been selling lots of staple items. "We have been selling bread, milk, eggs, hamburger, water and that sort of thing."

But they still have stock for those looking for last minute supplies.

"Usually, we will have a couple good sales days and then like today (Friday) won't be very much and usually the day after either isn't a whole lot either," Norman said. "But usually once the weather clears up, people start coming back in. But it will be a pretty slow day today."

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