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Old Man Winter brings cold snap, snow

January 13, 2010
Old Man Winter came in with a blast last week, causing local folks to break out heavy coats, boots and scarves and sending vehicles sliding on the slick roads.

Last Wednesday, weather forecasters accurately called for heavy snows and below-freezing temperatures. Snow began falling in earnest Thursday morning and kept coming for several hours. Most schools in the area were canceled in expectation of slick roads, and highway crews began spreading salt and cinders in critical areas.

Ice at Hemlock Cliffs
There were several slide-offs during the day, including a tractor-trailer that jack-knifed at about the 78.5-mile marker of Interstate 64. The interstate remained open but state police urged drivers to use caution and slow down. The driving lanes were wet but mostly clear; passing lanes were snow-covered and slick.

An Amish buggy traveling S.R. 66 near Carefree has few problems in the snow compared to most vehicles after Old Man Winter dumped 3 to 4 inches of snow on the area last week, causing a multitude of driving problems. Photos by Wade Bell
"We had several slide-offs in the county," Crawford County Sheriff Tim Wilkerson said. "There were no injuries with most of the incidents, but there was a two-car accident on Goodman Ridge Road where a woman and a 3-year-old were sent to the hospital, but their injuries appeared not to be serious."

By late Thursday, there was about three inches of snow on the ground in most areas and, as the snow tapered off, temperatures began to plunge, sending thermometer readings down to about 12 degrees, with wind-chill factors of zero. The Crawford County Highway Department put in a long day Thursday, spreading gravel on many roads and critical areas on steep hills and intersections.

And as temperatures dropped, the threat of frozen pipes increased.

"In my experience, we'll really see an increase in calls about frozen pipes after things begin to thaw out," Tony Phillips, of A.C. Phillips Plumbing and Heating in Milltown, said. "Although we haven't received many calls yet, I expect to be getting more soon. People usually don't panic until it starts thawing and their basements begin to fill with water or they discover leaks.

"We see a lot of problems in mobile homes and old farm houses with crawl spaces. It's so much easier if people would leave a little water running during cold spells like this. Usually, that will keep pipes from freezing," he added.

"But most of our calls, so far, have been about furnace problems. This kind of weather makes them work really hard and, if there are any weak links in a furnace, it'll show up then."

Cold arctic air that came with the snow caused problems for a lot of people, but at Hemlock Cliffs in central Crawford County it created an amazing display of ice formations, including this 60-foot ice pillar that drew visitors to the area for a walk in the woods.
Travel problems remain the most pronounced result of snowstorms, and this storm was no exception. Crawford County schools remained closed Friday but re-opened Monday with a two-hour delay.

The Indiana State Police Post in Jasper issued a list of tips that could save the life of anyone stranded in a vehicle in cold weather:

•Before you leave, check the weather forecast and let someone know your route of travel.

•Always keep your gas tank full when driving in cold weather.

•Equip your vehicle with a winter survival kit (blankets, a flashlight, extra batteries, brightly colored cloth, sand or a bag of cat litter, shovel, candle and matches, non-perishable high-calorie foods (nuts, raisins and candy bars), newspapers (for insulation), a first-aid kit and jumper cables.

•Do not leave your vehicle if stranded; it is your best protection. Do not panic; an idling car only uses one gallon of gas per hour.

•Roll down a window a small amount for fresh air.

•Make sure the car's exhaust pipe is not blocked, to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

•At night, leave your dome light on.

•If at all possible, carry a cell phone and call 911.

Snow photo gallery

Ice at Hemlock Cliffs photo gallery

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