By Andrea McCann
Washington Times Herald
WASHINGTON — The bottom line in the face of today’s blizzard conditions is “if you don’t have to go out, don’t.”
The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for most of the state, including Daviess and Martin counties, which will remain in effect until 7 p.m. Heavy snow and strong winds are causing white-out conditions and drifting, making travel treacherous. Travel is restricted to emergency personnel only during a blizzard warning.
“There was green grass at 3 a.m.,” said Daviess County Emergency Management Director Paul Goss. “Around 4 o’clock is when it started. There was zero visibility for a while.”
It didn’t take long for the snow to accumulate. The NWS expects it to continue throughout the day, with accumulations of 8 to 10 inches. The temperature was about 31 degress with a wind chill of 17 degrees Wednesday morning.
“Snow totals vary, but here I have 9 inches,” said Cher Elliott, spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Transportation’s Southwest District in Vincennes, at about 10 a.m. Wednesday.
A north wind of 28 mph, with gusts of up to 37 mph, is causing the snow to blow and decrease visibility as well as creating drifts. Goss said the conditions caused the northbound I-69 on-ramp at U.S. 50 to be closed.
“We’ve been out in full force since about four this morning,” Elliott said. “Snow has caused white-out conditions from time to time and there is very limited visibility. Cars have slid off several roadways. Don’t get out unless you have to.”
Goss said sheriff’s deputies are having to use four-wheel-drive vehicles to get through on county roads.
He said it’s a challenge getting emergency vehicles out to people, but so far there haven’t been a lot of emergency calls.
He said there were a number of early-morning slide-offs when some people tried to drive to work. Though Goss said he understands some people feel like they need to go to work, it’s just not safe and citizens are being asked to stay off the roads unless there’s an emergency.
“There’s been state highway trucks slide off the road, so it’s pretty slick out there,” Goss said.
Indiana State Police add that if people attempt to go somewhere and their vehicle is stranded on a road, it makes it that much more difficult for emergency vehicles to get through and for INDOT trucks to clear the roadways. ISP reported Daviess County roads to be slick and hazardous, and is asking people to stay off them unless absolutely necessary.
Drivers who do attempt to go somewhere should take a fully charged cell phone and a winter survival kit with them, according to ISP, and if stranded, stay with their vehicle.
ISP also reminds people not to call local police agencies to ask about road conditions because the phone lines need to be open for emergencies. Instead, they can check www.crh.noaa.gov/ind or www.TrafficWise.IN.gov. Inquiries may also be made at 1-800-261-7623.
The NWS predicts snow will stop later Wednesday and by Thursday winds will die down to about 3 to 6 mph. The high temperature Thursday is expected to be about 31 degrees.