Ice coated roads Tuesday afternoon, making them treacherous for travel.
Conditions on Ind. 18 forced state officials to close the highway between Galveston and U.S. 31. A semi jackknifed and several other vehicles slid off the road that contains a notorious S-curve.
Other highways also proved difficult to travel because of about an eighth of an inch of ice followed by rain.
Alvin Beckman, director of the Cass County Emergency Management Agency, expressed concern about the effect of continuous rain in the area and the prospect of temperatures again dipping below freezing.
“With rain continuing as it is, it may cause some problems further down the road,” Beckman said. “We’re already seeing pooling on the roads, but as long as temperatures hold steady we should be fine.”
Many county roads were a shiny sheet of ice this morning, making for extended drive times. Cass County Highway Superintendent Steve Easley said his crews modified work schedules to handle the storm.
“The guys came in at around three this afternoon,” he said Tuesday. “We had everybody out putting salt and sand down. But, to be quite honest, from our assessment of the rate that the sleet and rain was falling, we were losing the battle. Right now the roads are extremely slick.”
Easley added that road conditions were worse than after Friday’s ice storm.
“If we compared what we had on Friday when we woke up in the morning and saw the hanging ice, we could see what we had to deal with. But today with snow to sleet to freezing rain then sleet and back to freezing rain, it was a lot more difficult.”
Easley said crews had been pulled in for the night at 7:30 p.m. but would return to the roads at 5 o’clock this morning. He said he hoped temperatures would not drop below freezing again.
“When temperatures are low, salt and sand becomes less effective,” Easley said. “We would much rather deal with snow, because all you have to do is push it off the road.”
The National Weather Service, meanwhile, warned residents of northern Indiana about a significant flooding threat this weekend because of expected heavy rains later in the week and a rapid snow melt.
Ice jams could further increase the likelihood of flooding, the weather service said.
Freezing rain moving across the state caused travel troubles for southern and central Indiana Tuesday afternoon. The weather was blamed for a crash that killed an Indianapolis couple whose car slid off the road and hit a line of trees in Whitestown, police said.
Evansville’s bus system suspended service for several hours because of ice-covered roads and authorities closed sections of Indiana 37 around Bloomington. Numerous accidents also tied up roads in and around Indianapolis, where sections of Interstate 465 and I-69 were closed.
Gov. Mitch Daniels also canceled a planned trip Tuesday to Fort Wayne and Elkhart because of the poor weather.
The new troubles came as work continued in Fort Wayne to restore power from the ice storm that hit the city last week. Indiana Michigan Power said about 15,000 homes and businesses remained without power Tuesday night as crews had to take some customers out of service temporarily to safely repair lines. At the peak, some 109,000 customers in northeastern Indiana were without power.
The weather service issued a winter weather advisory for much of the state.
Central Indiana was expected to receive less than an inch of snow on Tuesday before temperatures were expected to warm, leading to sleet and freezing rain. In northern Indiana, some areas were expected to receive 2 to 4 inches of snow on Tuesday and another 2 to 4 inches on Wednesday.
The weather service was warning drivers to be prepared for treacherous conditions with slippery roads and limited visibility and urged travelers to use caution.
Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry was warning city workers Tuesday to be prepared to work overtime with the potential upcoming weather problems.
“Again, we’re in a situation where we have very tight budgets, so we’re going to have to move money around to make ends meet, but our citizens come first,” he said.
The city said both the street and parks departments are working full, extended shifts in an attempt to clean city roadways of debris.
Indiana Michigan Power says most Fort Wayne customers should have their power restored by Wednesday night, although full restoration of power isn’t expected until Friday night.
<b>Many roads remained dangerous this morning</b>
Ice coated roads Tuesday afternoon, making them treacherous for travel.
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