by Amie Sites
Snow fell steadily Wednesday as drivers braved a winter storm hitting Cass County and much of the state.
In a Tuesday press release, Indiana State Police said the first major storm of this winter season was anticipated to affect the vast majority of Indiana. Data from the National Weather Service indicated light snow had been falling constantly in Logansport since about 7:55 p.m. Christmas Day through midafternoon Wednesday.
Temperatures below 30 degrees kept the snow accumulating, causing havoc for drivers still traveling over the holiday weekend.
Jeff Smith, Cass County highway director, said the department had 22 plow trucks and three pick-up trucks with plows on them out Wednesday.
Highway employees put sand and salt down where it was needed, he added.
“We will be out in the daylight hours and formulate a plan for the rest of the day, overnight and into tomorrow,” Smith said around 1 p.m. Wednesday.
Trucks had been dispatched early morning, said Smith, but snow didn’t start accumulating until late morning.
The highway department covers all roads in Cass County, about 900 miles of roadway. The number of miles takes away some of the department’s staffing flexibility to work in shifts and cover all areas, Smith said.
“If people don’t have to go somewhere, it would be my recommendation to stay put,” Smith said.
Bob Dunderman, distribution manager at Logansport Municipal Utilities, received a phone call notifying the utility that someone had slid off the road and hit a street-light controller on High Street between Mall Road and Spencer Park. Dunderman said that means eight streets lights will be out in that area until utility staffers can fix it.
“That leads me to the fact that people should slow down and be aware of road conditions,” Dunderman said. “If they hit an electrical box or pole, the first thing they need to do, especially if a wire is down, is stay in the car until someone from LMU can get there.”
Dunderman said people also need to be prepare their house for outages in an event like this.
“When there is a lot of snow and heavy wind, there could be outages that last a while,” Dunderman said. “It is especially a necessity to be prepared for those who are in the county. If someone has an outage in the county they are also without water.”
State police asked people not to call city, county or state police to check road conditions so police agencies could keep their lines open for emergency phone calls.
Cass County Sheriff Randy Pryor also exhorted residents to take simple precautions to weather the storm.
Pryor said when weather is bad, slowing down is key to preventing crashes.
“Some young drivers have a tendency to slam on the break when they experience sliding,” Pryor said. “Older vehicles don’t have anti-lock breaking. If you experience sliding while driving, put the car in neutral.”
Pryor said putting the car in neutral helps the driver gain better control over the vehicle.
“If you have to drive in severe weather, make sure you have water, snacks, snow shovel and always have a full fuel tank,” Pryor said. “If you get in a serious problem dial 911.”
Pryor said people should leave early and be patient.
State police advised that if a crash happens, but there aren’t injuries and the vehicle is drivable, to move to a safe area to exchange names, phone numbers and insurance information.
For Indiana road conditions, road closures, construction information, crashes and other traffic alerts call 800-261-7623, or visit the Indiana Department of Transportation website at www.trafficwise.in.gov. People can also check the National Weather service at http://www.crh.noaa.gov/ind/.
Amie Sites is a staff reporter for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-732-5150.