County prepares for another snowfall

Hamilton County Emergency Management and Sheriff’s Office officials are once again reminding area residents to prepare for the winter weather expected in the next few days. Snow is being forecast to begin this afternoon with the heaviest downfall from late afternoon during rush hour through around 2 a.m. Wednesday. Residents are asked to use caution and allow for extra time between locations during the afternoon commute today. Hamilton County is predicted to get up to 10 inches of new snow by the time the storm has passed with up to an inch per hour falling at times.

No travel restrictions have been issued for Hamilton County yet but that is likely to change as the day progresses and the snow begins to accumulate by mid-afternoon. The significant amount of snow expected, along with gusty winds, will create slick and hazardous conditions as well as possible drifts and blocked roads. Once the snow hits, public safety officers encourage residents to remain at home and off the streets. This not only allows road crews a better opportunity to clear the streets but it also increases safety for everyone. Being out on the roads not only puts the driver in danger of becoming stranded or crashing but also puts the lives of other motorists, first responders, wrecker drivers, and others in danger.

Planning ahead and keeping an emergency kit in your vehicle as well as in your house are important. Make sure you have a charged cell phone in case of a crash or emergency. If a car is stranded, stay with it unless shelter is within sight. Run the vehicle periodically for warmth but make sure the exhaust pipe is clear and leave a window partially open for fresh air. Remember to keep speeds slower and allow extra room between vehicles. SUVs and four wheel drives may provide some assistance with snow but even these will slide easily on packed snow and ice. During weather events, it is a good idea to let someone know your route and expected times if you must be out on the roads.

Law enforcement officers will be out throughout the storm but the number of calls for service often dramatically increases during these types of weather events. During January 2014, the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office alone fielded over 410 traffic hazards along with nearly 150 crashes. This compares to 150 traffic hazards and 80 crashes for the same period in 2013. These numbers do not reflect activity by other jurisdictions in the county.

Additional information on weather safety can be found at www.ready.gov/winter-weather and www.in.gov/dhs/getprepared.htm. Hamilton County stands ready to assist and can be reached at 773-1282 or 911 for an emergency.