Bartholomew County’s largest snowfall of the young winter driving season turned out to be a lightweight, especially compared to points further south.

Southern Indiana counties near Louisville were plagued by dangerously heavy and frozen precipitation, said Harry Maginity, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Transportation.

He described what Columbus received as a “storybook snow.” 

“It was light and came off windshields easy in Bartholomew County,” Maginity said. 

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Columbus Public Works director Bryan Burton agreed, suggesting Wednesday was much easier than an earlier snowfall, where “temperatures were dropping as we were clearing.”

While squalls left varying amounts in the Columbus area, 2.5 inches of snow was measured on the ground at the Columbus Municipal Airport at noon Wednesday, assistant airport director Justin Bessler said. 

Although city snow crews were plowing by 4 a.m. Wednesday, they were advised to not start putting salt down on local streets until after the snow stopped around 9 a.m., Burton said.

State highway crews also decided not to pre-treat highways out of fear of creating even slicker morning driving conditions, Maginity said.   

Once the snow stopped, state crews used a mixture of salt and sodium chloride that has proven to be effective at keep ice from reforming over highways in lower temperatures, Maginity said.   

As expected, the biggest problem for traffic in the Columbus area was Interstate 65, where 18 minor accidents or slide-offs were investigated Wednesday morning, said Ed Reuter, 911 Emergency Operations Center director 

While ambulances from Columbus Regional Hospital recorded 22 runs from midnight through noon Wednesday, only six were accident-related, Reuter said.  

Although a few local residents suffered cuts and bruises, none of the crashes resulted in serious injuries, Reuter said.   

What helped keep drivers safer in the Columbus area was the decision to cancel classes Wednesday in both the Bartholomew Consolidated and Flat Rock-Hawcreek school districts, Reuter said.

“That really helps on reducing the amount of traffic, as well as keep our most inexperienced drivers off the road,” Reuter said.

Although the forecast calls for snow showers to return briefly Friday, little to no additional accumulation is expected before milder temperatures return to south central Indiana.   

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.