Slick roads, high winds create overnight hazards, close schools
Overnight snow has created hazardous driving conditions throughout central Indiana.
More than 100 schools and businesses had closed before 6:00 a.m. See the list here. Schools closed for the day include: Anderson, Bartholomew, Bloomfield, Brown County, Charles A. Beard, Clark-Pleasant, Eastern (Greene), Franklin Community, Greenfield Central, Martinsville, Mississinewa, Monroe County, North Putnam, Richland-Bean Blossom, Seymour, Southern Hancock and Spencer-Owen Schools.
According to State Police, Interstate 70 east of Indianapolis is mostly clear with slick spots in the driving lane, with the passing lane mostly snow covered.
I-69 is clear with ice spots on overpasses in Delaware County. Police remind travelers to leave early, slow down and be prepared for near white out conditions at times on north-south roads.
District 51 Troopers are working a few slide off crashes, mostly south of I-70.
Semi-trailer accidents blocked traffic on both Interstate 65 and Interstate 69 near the State Road 28 exits in Clinton and Delaware counties, respectively.
Two semi trailers tangled four miles south of the Frankfort/Attica exit on I-65 early Friday morning, blocking all lanes back to the exit. The backup stretched for three miles as crews worked to clear the scene.
Trooper Kent Wainscott told Eyewitness News the first driver lost control on black ice, skidded and was struck by a trailing semi.
The driver of the second semi was injured, and taken to Lebanon for treatment of leg injuries.
"Strong wind, the blowing, ice and snow...it's terrible out here," said Wainscott, who said at least two other crashes occurred in the backup to the first crash.
A jack knifed semi just north of the Boone County rest stop closed Interstate 65 at 4:00 a.m., as well, but that incident was cleared much more quickly than the Clinton County crash.
Another semi incident closed the ramp from northbound I-65 to westbound I-465 on the south side of Indianapolis.
On I-69 just north of SR 28 in Delaware County, two semis were involved in a crash at the 147 mile marker northbound. One lane was blocked but northbound traffic was moving past the scene of the accident.
Grant County also reported multiple accidents throughout the early morning hours on I-69, including a semi accident closing northbound traffic at the 256 mile marker at 3:00 a.m.
The snow and winter weather didn't keep people off the roads in the city Thursday night.
But strong winds made driving tougher.
Salt crews hit the streets of Indianapolis for the first snow of the season, trying to prevent slick roads from freezing, as drivers battled not only snow and sleet, but also strong winds.
"It's really slick. I can't really see. The visibility is really bad," said Sierra Hamilton of Indianapolis.
Wind whipped up the weather all night long. What started out as rain falling on downtown commuters quickly changed as temperatures plummeted. Road crews couldn't pre-treat the streets because the rain would have washed the solution away.
But they started salting as soon as temperatures fell below freezing.
"All of a sudden, it's like snowing really bad. Well, not snowing, but like the wind is blowing the little snow and makes it look like a lot of snow. So that's what's making things kind of crazy right now," Hamilton said.
"It hasn't been too bad, but I think this time of the year you just have to be careful and watch out for those who aren't used to driving on snow, that first heavy snow that we get," added Ralph Taylor of Indianapolis.
In the Indy metro area, the snow wasn't very heavy. But crews with the Department of Public Works were at full force to keep streets safe. Ninety drivers were out in the evening hours, with another 90 coming in overnight.
INDOT has road crews out salting the highway, too. As temperatures continue to fall and with winds gusting over 40 miles an hour, their concern is preventing slick spots for the morning rush hour.
"I'm a little worried," said Indianapolis driver Ben Ullrich. "Going to work tomorrow will be a little rough."
But Thursday night, there were no serious problems on the roads and drivers say there is actually a positive to this first snowfall - the timing couldn't be better.
"I guess it's nice for Christmas, so I don't mind the snow," Ullrich said.
The wind whipped around Lafayette's first pre-Christmas snowfall, with gusts topping 30 mph.
"The wind was a little strong and when I was on the highway, it was a little hard to stay on the narrow, because the wind felt strong and the road was a little slick," said one motorist.
At a shopping mall, Eyewitness News found more shoppers than we expected, running in and out of the stores, shielding their faces from being pelted by the icy snow.
"It's Christmas," said one store worker. "You're going to have to go shopping no matter what. If I wasn't working, I'd be out shopping to."
Lafayette is looking at over an inch of snow by Friday morning. At a big box hardware store, we found plenty of stock, including ice melts and shovels. Often, stores don't run out of those items until after the first big storm of the year.
As she buckled her toddler into his child safety seat, one mother says little Austin asked her "What's that stuff falling from the sky?"
It's Austin's first snow, or at least the first he'll remember.