HANCOCK COUNTY — While warmer, mild temperatures have been the theme so far this November, winter weather is on the horizon, state and local officials warn. The Indiana Department of Transportation and county officials urge Hoosiers to be prepared for when snow and temperatures start to fall, which is coming soon.

Gov. Eric Holcomb proclaimed Nov. 6-12 as Winter Weather Preparedness Week in Indiana and county officials say it’s always a good idea to be prepared for foul weather.

“We’re ready for the snow, but we really don’t want it,” Chief County Highway Engineer Gary Pool said. “Our county drivers are pretty good in winter weather, but we all stink at it when the first real storm hits.”

Along with the National Weather Service and other agencies, INDOT is encouraging the public to use this week as a reminder to take steps to prepare for potential hazards that come with driving in winter weather.

Pool noted the county has plenty of salt and the 10 trucks they use are ready, but he is hoping the first snowfall of the season holds off for at least a few more weeks.

“Nobody wants that first snowfall,” Pool said. “Winter is coming and there is no magic formula, we just all have to go through it, but the worst thing is to not be prepared.”

Local officials know how important it is to have everything ready and not wait until the first snow hits. Pool noted they’re prepared for either a harsh or mild winter — whatever mother natures throws this way.

“We usually have to order the salt, but we’ve got some left over from last year,” Pool said. “The trucks are working and ready, but then everything works until it gets cold.”

Temperatures in Hancock County this coming week are expected to drop well below freezing overnight, into the 20s with highs during the day in the 40-degree range or lower. Pool wanted to remind drivers that it takes a full 24 hours for county crews to plow Hancock County and that county winds make plowing miserable and can blow away work within minutes, so drivers need to always be mindful and on the lookout.

“We have to have the first snow storm at some point and when it comes we know it will be hard,” Pool said.

When it comes to safe travel tips while driving in winter weather, state officials say the best thing to do is to slow down and adjust travel to conditions, especially on snow-covered roads and to never tailgate or drive beside a snowplow as the driver’s visibility may be limited.

Pool and state officials say the safest place on the road during a winter storm is behind a snowplow, but if a person must pass, to do so carefully.

Probably one of the biggest tips officials offer is for drivers to be prepared in case of a crash where they may become stranded and to always carry an emergency kit in your vehicle with food, water, a phone charger, sand or cat litter, flares or bright LED alternatives, a flashlight and blankets.

One of the other things drivers need to do is keep your vehicle full of gas, keep a shovel in your car to dig out around your tires and your tailpipe if needed, make sure your vehicle battery is strong, fluids are at the appropriate levels and your spare tire is properly inflated.

According to the National Weather Service, there are over 66,000 variations of winter storms. Snow, ice, freezing rain and fog all present challenges for winter travel and at some point it seems like they all hit Hancock County. Roads can become slick, even after pre-treatment and regular treatment during and after a storm, so drivers should always slow down.

For information about road conditions during a winter storm, visit 511in.org to view INDOT’s Trafficwise map, or download the app on your Apple or Android device. Another way to stay connected is to follow INDOT on social media for regional information and additional resources such as the Daily Reporter for the latest weather and road information.