Watch Status Declared, Travel Still Discouraged

The most recent state-wide travel advisories per the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

The most recent state-wide travel advisories per the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

As of 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Indiana Department of Transportation announced drivers have made progress plowing drifted and snow-covered roads, but extremely hazardous icy conditions remain, and conditions may worsen overnight.

As INDOT has stressed throughout this winter storm, even chemically treated road salt is less effective in these subzero temperatures, and snowpack that essentially equal sheets of ice should be expected on all roads. These conditions may get worse overnight when any thawing and melting that had occurred during the day refreezes. These icy conditions likely won’t improve until later in the day tomorrow, when temperatures are expected to become more favorable for salt and plows.

Locally, Sgt. Chad Hill of the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department, said residents have been bombarding the Kosciusko Central Dispatch Center with calls asking about road conditions. The problem with that is, the dispatchers do not have specific information and the unnecessary calls tie up phone lines for real emergencies, he added.

Indiana State Police and INDOT both maintain websites for those needing road condition information. The Indiana Department of Homeland Security also maintains a statewide map of current travel advisories.

Since the onset of the storm, which began Sunday, Sgt. Hill said county officers have been using the department’s 4-wheel drive vehicles to patrol and respond to calls. “Basically it’s an all hands on deck situation with even the detectives out making calls,” he added. “Even with the weather, we have maintained fully staffed shifts.”

 

Sgt. Hill said the first night of the storm saw many slide-offs and stranded motorists, but as the subzero temperatures have continued, especially today, officers saw more fender benders. He added, “Fortunately, most people are driving slowly which has reduced the severity of the accidents.”

While rumors have flown that motorists were being ticketed for being out despite a Level III emergency declaration, Sgt. Hill said county officers were not writing tickets explaining, “There is an IC that gives police the capabilities to do so, but at least county wasn’t doing that. If people are going to work and that’s their livelihood, that’s different than someone out joy riding or busting drifts. But to my knowledge tickets weren’t written.”

Kosciusko County’s emergency declaration was reduced to a watch level this evening, meaning motorists are urged to use caution when traveling. INDOT, however, is asking the public to refrain from any non-emergency travel through tomorrow. Those who must travel are asked to be prepared for these conditions before leaving, and to adjust driving behaviors in order to arrive at destinations safely. Take it slow, leave plenty of room between vehicles, and give snow plows plenty of room to work.

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