HANCOCK COUNTY — As snowstorms caused headaches for travelers Tuesday, local meteorologists warned cold temperatures could create even more trouble through the rest of the week.
Storms dumped at least 4 inches of snow on central Indiana on Tuesday, causing more than 70 calls to 911 reporting crashes, slide-offs and disabled vehicles in Hancock County, the majority being along Interstate 70, before noon, officials said.
And sub-zero temperatures forecasted for the rest of the week have experts giving more reasons to stay inside.
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Starting Wednesday, Hancock County residents should expect temperatures in the single digits or low teens, said Dave Tucek, meteorologist with the National Weather Service forecast office in Indianapolis. And wind chills in the negative single digits through the end of the week will make it feel even colder outside, he said.
Those who expect to spend any significant amount of time outside, especially youngsters waiting for the bus in icy temperatures, should dress warmly and in layers to prevent frostbite, said Tucek, predicting school delays because of cold temperatures Wednesday morning.
And low temperatures could keep make commutes Wednesday morning even worse than Tuesday, officials warned.
Temperatures dipping into the teens make it more difficult for salt to melt the ice on roadways, Indiana Department of Transportation officials said. While other chemicals can be used to increase the melting power of salt at low temperatures, drivers are asked to be wary of refreezing on roadways, especially on ramps and bridges.
Numerous crashes and slide-offs prompted emergency management officials to issue an advisory travel warning for Hancock County around 11 a.m. Tuesday, alerting residents to use caution if they needed to drive.
All lanes of westbound traffic on the interstate from State Road 9 to State Road 109 were closed for more than three hours Tuesday morning while crews worked to pull cars out of snow-covered ditches. Crashes also slowed eastbound I-70 traffic from the State Road 9 exit to Mount Comfort Road.
Some injuries were reported, but none were life-threatening, according to Indiana State Police Sgt. John Perrine. In all, more than 40 accidents, the bulk of which were on I-70, were reported by noon, said John Jokantas, director of the county’s dispatch center.
The Hancock County Sheriff’s Department called several second-shift officers and all of its reserves in mid-morning to assist with accident reports on the interstate, according to police broadcasts. Dispatchers sought help from tow-truck companies outside Hancock County to clear damaged cars off roadways because the wreckers from Greenfield’s three tow-truck companies were tied up assisting drivers on the interstate.
The first few snowfalls of the season always bring higher crash rates as drivers get accustomed to winter weather, Indiana Department of Transportation officials said. They offer these driving tips to ensure you arrive to your destination safely:
– Slow down. Allow extra time to reach your destination. You don’t want to put yourself and others in a dangerous situation by being in a rush.
– Keep a safe distance between your car and others. Make sure your vehicle is following at a safe distance to stop. Do not tailgate, especially around snow plows, and try not to pass on snow-covered roads
– Focus only on driving. Be aware of your surroundings, drive defensively and be alert for others who are not driving safely.
Exposure to the cold can cause life-threatening health conditions. To avoid frostbite and hypothermia, remember to always wear hats or hoods; scarfs or knit masks to cover your face and mouth; mittens; water-resistant coat and boots; and several layers of loose-fitting clothing to stay warm when outdoors.