Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

February 22, 2013

Wintery mix hits county overnight

Bart Doan

— A steady mix of sleet, freezing rain, and snow blanketed Hendricks County and central Indiana Thursday night into early Friday morning, but authorities say they were ready for it.

“There have been very few problems,” Lt. Jim Yetter of the Hendricks County Sheriff’s Department said Friday morning. “It seems like the two-hour delay helped with the amount of cars on the roads.”

Curt Higginbotham, superintendent of the Hendricks County Highway Department, said clear roads were a combination of storm timing and extra use of salt. With a typical three- to four-inch snow, he said they might use about 300 tons of salt. With this storm, Higginbotham said, they used 600 tons.

“In talking with my staff, we used probably twice as much (salt) as we usually do on a typical snow, but that’s because it takes more chemicals and salt to melt (ice),” he said. “I think the other thing that helped us was the timing of this. It happened mainly late evening, early morning when a lot of people were not on the road. That was advantageous to us.”

Higginbotham said his drivers have 18 primary routes with each driver having about 25 miles. He said that allows them to get to all points in the county.

“We had no issues getting out and treating them,” he said Friday afternoon. “Most of us came in when it started around 7 p.m. Thursday and only about half have gone home so far. “My staff does a tremendous job.”

Yetter said navigable main roads were a big asset to keeping accidents and slide-offs at a minimum, for the most part.

He said side streets were obviously going to be slicker, as were roads in the more rural areas of the county which carry fewer vehicles.

More than 250 schools across the state featured either two-hour delays or cancellations, and the wintery mix did wreak havoc on the Indianapolis International Airport. Airport officials reported that multiple flights to and from the city were canceled, including more than 50 Friday morning outbound flights.

The airport recorded a half inch of ice.

County residents seemed to have a positive view of the impact of the storm as street department crews worked throughout the night to ensure safe travels.

“The back roads were a little scary, but once I got to Rockville Road, it was clear,” Vikki Lucas Wagner commented on the Hendricks County Flyer’s Facebook page.

Mindy Willoughby-Choate said, “I am impressed by how efficient the highway department and Town of Danville are at clearing the way for us. No problems here.”

Some were able to avoid the weather all together.

“It went as planned. I stayed home!” exclaimed Melissia Griffeth.

Still, some had challenges with their daily routine.

“My husband was supposed to leave for work at 3 a.m. but Cartersburg Road was still a sheet of ice so he had to call off,” said Judith Smith of Plainfield.

Brownsburg Town Manager Grant Kleinhenz lauded the town’s street department for getting ahead of the storm by pre-treating.

“Because of the threat of ice, we started pre-treating the streets at 3 p.m. with salt,” he said. “That helped get rid of the ice and it was definitely a good move by our street department. I received several comments about how good the streets were.”

Kleinhenz said that by early afternoon, because of the street department’s efforts and the rising temperatures, streets were “pretty much” cleared up for motorists.

Temperatures had risen above freezing by late morning and were expected to exceed it with daily highs throughout the weekend, but Yetter said motorists should still be mindful as the ice begins to melt away.

“From 5 a.m. on, it’s been pretty quiet for us,” he said. “When you have weather like this, slow down, and leave enough room between you and the car ahead of you. Slowing down is probably the key.”