City, state plows out in force
Winter finally came to the area Saturday, leaving homeowners to shovel their walks and stay inside or tempt nature with a ride on streets and highways while snowplows continued covering their routes to keep the roads clear and safe, local authorities said.
At 7 p.m. Saturday, snowfall at Fort Wayne International Airport registered 3 inches, with an additional 1.5 inches possible by 3 a.m. when the snow was expected to end, said Chris Roller, meteorologist with the National Weather Service of Northern Indiana.
Nichole Thomas, media relations director for the Indiana Department of Transportation’s Fort Wayne region, said the district’s 140 drivers would be plowing during 12-hour shifts until no longer needed.
Crews from INDOT and the city of Fort Wayne pre-treated their respective routes Friday with brine to prevent ice buildup.
The INDOT crews were reporting crashes and slide-offs since the snow began about 9:45 a.m. Saturday.
“We do expect that (crashes and slide-offs) with the first significant snow of the year,” Thomas said Saturday afternoon. “It’s been very, very mild lately, but winter is here now.”
She stressed that drivers must slow down, pay attention and start out early.
“We have people on (Interstate) 69 trying to go 70 miles per hour right now,” Thomas said. “People just need to slow down.”
Traffic will be less slick in the city where the heat from car tires helps to break up snow and ice, she said.
“Rural areas with no traffic could certainly be slick,” Thomas added.
Cpl. Michael Swallow of the Indiana State Police’s Fort Wayne district said that between noon and 6 p.m. Saturday, troopers worked eight slide-offs, 10 property-damage crashes and one crash with injuries in Allen and Huntington counties.
Information on the number of crashes from the Fort Wayne Police Department was unavailable Saturday evening.
Fort Wayne has 40 street department plow trucks working the roads, according to a release from Frank Suarez, a spokesman for the city.
″(Friday), plow truck drivers pre-treated main arterial intersections with brine to reduce ice build-up,” Suarez said in the release.
“At this hour, streets are slick and motorists should allot for additional time and reduce speeds as they travel today.”