Drivers face round 2 of winter storm; officials urge extreme caution

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Central Indiana drivers are heading home from work this evening in the midst of round two of a winter storm system.

Steady snowfall started around Indianapolis just after 1 p.m. and continued into the evening commute.

Indiana Department of Transportation spokesperson Mallory Duncan asked for all drivers to be extremely cautious during the evening commute.

“Slow down, don’t tailgate, leave plenty of room between you and another car,” Duncan said. “What we’re going to see are maybe some bridges getting some slick spots because they are up in the air, and they tend to freeze a lot faster than our main line.”

The first round of snowfall dumped about 4 inches of snow in the Indianapolis area. The snow contributed to 130 crashes and slide-off accidents around Indianapolis between Sunday evening and Monday afternoon, according to Indiana State Police.

INDOT has a full call-out of 55 plow and salt truck drivers working on 12-hour shifts through noon Tuesday. At that point, the department will decide if conditions require another shift. The Indianapolis Department of Public Works has a full call-out of 80 plow and salt truck drivers working 12-hour shifts. Those drivers are scheduled to continue running routes through Tuesday night.

While the timing of the afternoon and evening snow isn’t great, Duncan said the conditions are favorable for treating the roadways.

“We are at the sweet spot for temperatures right now,” Duncan said. “Salt will activate very quickly because we’re between 20 and 30 degrees.”

She and other officials are asking drivers to reduce their speeds this evening and avoid passing plow trucks working near the shoulder of a roadway.

“We had a couple instances this morning of people trying to pass plow drivers on the shoulders, which did not work out for the vehicle,” Duncan said.

If lane markings become difficult to see, Duncan recommends following the tire tracks of other drivers.

“Your safest bet will be please stay in the wheel paths that you see,” Duncan said. “Those will be the most cleared sections of the roadway as well because the tires will activate that salt.”

Duncan said conditions may require plow drivers to engage in tandem plowing, where three INDOT trucks run side-by-side with each other in order to sweep several lanes clear of snow at one time.

The IMPD Homeland Security Bureau elevated its Emergency Operations Center to Level 4, from Level 5, Monday afternoon. Level 4 essentially means active monitoring and coordination between various public safety agencies around Marion County.

“Whether we’re getting calls in of icy bridges or something like that,” said Commander Tom Sellas, "that’s information that we can help relay to whether it’s DPW, the officers working the street, fire department and so on.”

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