Agencies respond to questions about messy morning commute

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Dec. 2, 2014)-- The Tuesday morning commute for many drivers consisted of traffic and slide-offs because of slick roads.

“I knew it was coming yeah. I actually didn’t realize it was so bad until (I) actually got (on the highway and it wasn’t) moving at all,” David Powell said.

Nathan Riggs with INDOT said they required 12 of their overnight drivers to work longer shifts on Tuesday because of the predicted forecast. As it got worse and by 8 a.m., Riggs said INDOT had a total of 40 drivers treating their highways in Marion County.

Riggs said they decide how to use their resources based on a number of forecasts from different agencies.

“Based on the information that we had going into this event, we make decisions based on use of resources and we made those decisions based on the information that was available to us," Riggs said.

Riggs said the initial forecast predicted a low chance of precipitation farther south and the forecast did not initial predict the weather event would be as intense as what commuters faced this morning.

“There was nothing in the forecast yesterday that indicated pre-treating the roadways would have been a benefit…a beneficial use of our resources,” Riggs said.

Riggs said around 6 a.m., their crews started treating our highways with granular material because that is when precipitation started.

The National Weather Service (NWS) indicated its models predicted a low chance of freezing rain as well.

“It was also one of those situations where we had this light rain fall where the ground was right near freezing and it only takes a slight coating of water to freeze that can cause major impacts,” said Dave Tucek, warning coordination meteorologist with the NWS.

The NWS issued a freezing rain advisory at 6:49 a.m. They issued it at that time because that is when accidents were reported, Tucek said. They said the slice of precipitation that caused headaches for commuters in Marion County this morning did not form until 5 a.m., and as soon as they saw issues they wanted to warn drivers.

“It really all came together at the last moment and we saw the outcome from that,” Tucek said.