Snow onslaught hits county, state

Photos by Kylie Schepers/The Herald
A dog wanders as snow falls south of Huntingburg on Monday afternoon. The National Weather Service predicted that 6 to 12 inches of snow would blanket most of the state by this afternoon.

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

Dubois County is engulfed in snow, and residents are advised to stay home, if they can.

“Since we are expecting a rather large winter storm heading our way and are under a Winter Storm Warning, I am advising Huntingburg residents to stay home, if possible,” Huntingburg Mayor Steve Schwinghamer said in a statement Sunday. “I want to reiterate that if possible, please stay home and stay safe!”

The county has been under a winter weather warning since the weekend. The National Weather Service predicted that 6 to 12 inches of snow would blanket most of the state by Tuesday afternoon.

The first wave of snow came into the area between late Sunday night and the wee hours of Monday morning. The second wave started Monday afternoon.

“Avoid travel, if possible,” Jasper Mayor Dean Vonderheide said. “I encourage each citizen to use good judgement if it is absolutely essential to get out in these dangerous conditions.”

The Indiana State Department of Health has tips for staying safe while at home:

• Monitor local radio, TV stations and social media websites for weather updates.

• Stock up on non-perishable food and water in the event of a power outage or being snowed in.

• If alternative heat sources are needed, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and always turn them off before going to bed or leaving home.

• Know how to shut off water valves properly if a pipe were to burst due to extreme cold.

• Bring pets indoors or ensure they have a warm shelter area with unfrozen water.

• Take breaks often when shoveling snow. Approximately 100 people die every year from heart attacks they endured while shoveling snow.

• Change into dry clothes after outdoor activities to prevent frostbite.

Snow falls south of Huntingburg on Monday afternoon.

“Be aware of your body’s response when exposed to the cold,” Vonderheide said. “The freezing weather combined with snowfall isn’t an environment we are accustomed to. Be prepared for reacting to an emergency situation and unplanned exposure.”

Road crews are doing their best to clear city and county roads. But with the ongoing onslaught of snow, their safety is also being taken into consideration. “Public safety is our first priority at this time, and city crews will be out doing what they can to keep the roads clear,” Schwinghamer said. “However, if their safety is a concern, I have advised them to hold off until it is safe.”

The Indiana Department of Transportation has deployed more than 1,100 plow trucks to plow and treat 28,000 lane miles of interstates, U.S. routes and state roads across Indiana. That includes more than 1,800 employees on call and using 200,000 tons of salt and 100,000 gallons of brine.

Plow trucks generally travel about 25 to 30 miles per hour and it takes between two to three hours to complete a snow route, a spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Transportation said in a release. Motorists are urged to stay off the roads during the winter storm if possible, to give plow drivers plenty of room to safely clear snow and ice, the spokesperson said.

If someone must travel, INDOT suggests:

• Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle in case you’re stranded and keep a cellphone charged in case you need to call for help.

• Be particularly aware of black-ice conditions on surfaces such as bridge decks and entrance and exit ramps.

• That four-wheel drive, anti-lock brakes and traction control are beneficial in winter weather, but they cannot take the place of good driving habits and the need to reduce speed on snowy or icy roads.

• Slow down and stay behind the snowplows. The road behind the plow will be the safest place to drive. Allow at least 10 car lengths between your vehicle and snow plows or hopper spreaders.

• Don't pass the plows. The plows are wide, and sometimes a group of trucks will work in tandem to clear snow quickly, especially on major highways.

Due to extremely cold temperatures and sub-zero wind chills, salt will take longer to melt snow and ice. Also, blowing and drifting may push snow back on to recently plowed routes.

Travel advisories, watches and warnings are issued by county emergency management agencies. To check the travel status in a given county, visit https://www.in.gov/dhs/traveladvisory/.

Information on the latest winter driving conditions can be found at https://indot.carsprogram.org.




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