Being careful out on the roads

Whiteout conditions on Keystone Ave. near 52nd Street just before 9:00 am.
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Residents across much of southern and central Indiana are being asked to remain off the roads while cleanup continues from the winter storm that hit the state.

The state Department of Homeland Security reports early Thursday that more than 30 counties have travel warnings or watches in effect, restricting travel to emergency personnel only or for only essential trips.

Authorities say blowing snow continued to cause problems after the snowfall ended Wednesday.

The National Weather Service reported the heaviest snowfall of about a foot in the Bloomington area. Evansville had 7.7 inches of snow, with 7.3 in Indianapolis for the city's deepest snowfall since January 2009.

With schools and universities closed for winter break and many businesses also choosing to close because of the blizzard warning, there was less traffic on the roads. By and large, people were using common sense.

Before the snow had stopped falling, it was flying in one south side neighborhood. Families were having fun with it.

"It's a snow day," laughed one mom. "There's nothing wrong with a snow day. Get to stay home, off the roads and away from the stores."

Morning rush hour took the brunt of the storm. Heavy, falling snow and dangerous winds made interstate travel treacherous. Road crews fought a losing battle against the weather, seeing in their rear view mirror the snow blowing over roads almost as quickly as they plowed them.

Dennis Moats with Bartholomew County Emergency Management told Eyewitness News the snow was falling faster than the crews could plow.

"We're lucky a lot of our major industries are shut down during this week. Schools are not in session, and a lot of companies did not open today or are releasing their employees early," said Moats. The big concern, he said, was at night as the temperatures drop and roadways ice up. "On county roads, they're not even gonna know where the roadway is."

Nearly 40 cars were stranded on State Road 37 near the Morgan/Monroe County line Wednesday morning. It took several hours to clear everyone.

While Wayne County only had around three or four inches of snow at 9:30 a.m., blowing and drifting was becoming a danger.

"The biggest problem is the blowing. We got some high winds and the roads are really beginning to drift bad," said Ron Sharp with Wayne County Emergency Management.

By mid-day, the worst was over. And as our crew drove through the streets, the most remarkable thing was the quiet. There was almost no noise, and very few cars were out.

We found Dena Mack clearing out her driveway with a tractor.

"I work at a boarding kennel where we board dogs when people are on vacation. And they have to be cared for. You have to be there seven days a week," she said.

Most people who were home spent the day clearing out their driveways. It appears most people stayed home and played it safe - knowing there will be plenty of work to do tomorrow.

By 4:00 pm, conditions were improving at I-65 and Southport Road. Road crews on interstates and in the counties were finally getting the break they needed to get the upper hand on the weather. Traffic was moving well, and the salt and brine seemed to be helping keep roadways clear. However, ramps are still icy and hazardous.

In Johnson County, the snow had stopped but winds were still strong.

While the storm is over now, roads will remain icy, snow-covered and hazardous for the next few days. INDOT warns drivers not to let their guard down.

Many counties are under travel emergencies or advisories. See your county's status here.

All Simon malls are closed Wednesday, along with the Children's Museum and many city and town government offices.

Click here to see closures.

See traffic updates here. 

See flight delays or cancellations here.

Check travel conditions here.

You can also call toll-free 1-800-261-ROAD (7623) for updated Indiana travel information, including road conditions, road closures, construction information, crashes and other traffic alerts.

INDOT asks drivers to promote their own safety and that of others by offering the following tips:

· ACCELERATE GRADUALLY on ice or snow to avoid slipping and sliding
· DRIVE SLOWLY and carefully to avoid rear-end collisions and sliding on curves
· ALLOW GREATER DISTANCE behind the car ahead; it takes more time to stop on snow and ice
· BRAKE EARLY, break slowly, never slam on the brakes; if you have anti-lock brakes, press the pedal down firmly and hold it; if you don't, gently pump the pedal
· NO CRUISE CONTROL; avoid abrupt steering maneuvers
· MAINTAIN GOOD VISIBILITY, stay alert and use your headlights so others can see you
· GIVE SNOWPLOWS ROOM to operate; don't tailgate or try to pass

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