Treacherous travel conditions as snow sweeps across southern Indiana; 5 to 9 inches forecast



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A multi-car accident at 3rd and Sycamore Streets on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015 in Columbus, Ind. A morning snowfall moved into the area, canceling school and causing widespread traffic problems. (AP Photo/The Republic, Chet Strange)


A snow plow truck makes its way through downtown on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015 in Columbus, Ind. A morning snowfall moved into the area, canceling school and causing widespread traffic problems. (AP Photo/The Republic, Chet Strange)


A snow plow truck makes its way through downtown on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015 in Columbus, Ind. A morning snowfall moved into the area, canceling school and causing widespread traffic problems. (AP Photo/The Republic, Chet Strange)


Penelope Perkins, 11, top, sleds down the hill and tries to avoid her friends Jackson Hiester, 13, left, Mason Bost, 13, center, and Daniel Vollmer, 13, as they sled at the State Hospital grounds in Evansville, Ind., on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015. A winter storm dropped about half a foot of snow in the area. (AP Photo/The Courier & Press, Erin Mccracken)


An I-69 snow plow clears Ind. 37 just north of where it crosses over the I-69 interstate construction site, Monday, Feb. 16, 2015 in Bloomington, Ind. Counties across southern Indiana are warning motorist of treacherous travel conditions following several inches of snowfall. (AP Photo/Bloomington Herald-Times, Jeremy Hogan)


EVANSVILLE, Indiana — Two counties declared states of emergency Monday to keep motorists off slick roads after a winter storm dumped several inches of snow across parts of southern Indiana.

The treacherous travel conditions prompted officials to close at least five college campuses and numerous K-12 schools in the region, where nearly 7 inches of snow was reported by midday.

Road crews were trying to keep up with the storm, but falling temperatures likely mean they'll be working for a couple days to clear the ice and snow, said Will Wingfield, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation.

"When we're getting snow of like a half an inch an hour, that can add up," he told the Evansville Courier & Press, noting that it takes plows two to three hours to complete their routes. "Due to the cold temperatures, it's going to be hard to get that snow and ice up off the roadway."

Officials in several counties were recommending only essential travel, such as to and from work or in an emergency. But in Clark and Floyd counties, just north of Louisville, Kentucky, officials imposed a state of emergency, enabling them to activate emergency disaster plans and authorize aid and assistance.

"We're trying to keep as many people off the roads as possible," Terry Herthel, director of the Floyd County Emergency Management Agency, told The (Louisville) Courier-Journal. "The highway crews can't keep up. Right now, they're only on main roads."

Herthel's counterpart in Clark County, Les Kavanaugh, said his county also was asking residents to avoid driving, noting that the upcoming forecast called for frigid temperatures.

"It's pretty much all downhill from here weather-wise," Kavanaugh said.

Indiana State Police reported working 320 crashes and 125 slide-off accidents by 5 p.m. EST Monday. Troopers said 43 of those crashes involved injuries.

The National Weather Service predicted snow accumulations of between 5 and 9 inches by the time the storm moved out of the region late Monday.

By early afternoon, 6.8 inches of snow had fallen in Evansville, while 5.5 inches was reported near Oolitic and also near Vincennes. Five inches of snow was reported in Bedford and the Floyd County town of Floyds Knobs.

Among the campuses either closed for the day or closing early were the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville; Ivy Tech State College campuses in Bloomington, Columbus and southwestern Indiana; and the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus in Columbus.

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