3 p.m. Wednesday
More than 100 schools throughout Indiana announced delayed starts due to the weather, with several of them in the Columbus area later deciding to call off classes altogether.
Conditions that began to worsen after 6 a.m. came too late for Columbus-based Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. to join them, however.
Superintendent Jim Roberts explained Wednesday afternoon that school officials began considering whether to issue a delay between 4 and 5 a.m., and decided at 4:45 a.m. that weather conditions would allow the buses to go out on schedule.
Because of the physical size of the school district, the corporation’s self-imposed timeline to send buses out is 5:30 a.m. in order to get classes started on time, he said. By about 6 a.m., school officials determined that roads conditions were more challenging than first thought. However, they decided not to return students home or call the buses back in at that point.
Second-guessing himself, Roberts said he would probably have called for the two-hour delay if he knew earlier what he learned after 6 a.m.
When weather changes or worsens after the buses go out, or during a school day when an early dismissal for students may be contemplated, school officials have to make some tough calls, he said.
“It’s the nature of the beast,” he said.
For complete coverage of the storm, see Thursday’s Republic.
11:35 A.M. Wednesday
Here is new information that Shannan Hinton, Bartholomew County Emergency Management director, is providing from the National Weather Service in Indianapolis regarding slick and icy conditions expected to impact central Indiana into the afternoon:
Black ice on roads, bridges, overpasses and other untreated
surfaces remains an issue across central Indiana. While freezing
drizzle has ended across the area, air temperatures will remain
in the upper 20s and lower 30s through the afternoon across much of central Indiana. This will cause icy conditions to persist,
especially on untreated secondary roadways.
While conditions are improving overall, commuters should be
prepared for slick and icy spots through the afternoon. Allow
extra time to reach your destination and reduce your speed.
10:15 A.M. Wednesday
The number of morning 911 accident calls has slowed, with none called in since 9:08 a.m. today. Nineteen in all were reported between 5:40 a.m. and 9:08 a.m., according to the Bartholomew County 911 Emergency Operations Center.
The biggest trouble spots included Elizabethtown, which had 2 different accidents reported at the same time at 9:08 a.m., plus 4 accidents earlier in the morning commute.
Accidents were reported between 7:30 and 8 a.m. at locations including:
— 25th and Fairlawn in Columbus, 7:46 a.m.
— Fourth and Brown streets, Columbus, 7:43 a.m.
— Marr Road and Poshard Drive, Columbus, 7:35 a.m.
— Poplar Drive and Bellsville Pike, Columbus, 7:31 a.m.
10 A.M. Wednesday
An unexpected layer of black ice caught motorists, public safety officials and school administrators by surprise Wednesday morning.
While more than a dozen accidents were investigated during morning rush hour traffic, none resulted in serious injuries, Bartholomew County Emergency 911 Operations Director Todd Noblitt said.
But it did cause a number of regional school districts, including the Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp and Brown County Schools., to initially declare a two-hour delay this morning and then call off classes altogether.
FHSC superintendent Shawn Price announced classes were cancelled for the day shortly before 9 a.m.
The sudden development of invisibly-slick roads and streets statewide caught everybody, including television meteorologists, off guard, Noblitt said.
9:20 A.M. Wednesday
Ice-covered roads have police across Bartholomew County responding to multiple crashes this morning.
The Columbus Police Department reported that roads are very slick in spots.
Intersections, overpasses, and bridges are especially hazardous, including U.S. 31 over the Flat Rock River.
State police are reporting black-ice conditions across central and southern Indiana.
In Brown County, State Road 46 is closed for two miles near the state park.
Southbound lanes of Interstate 65 at Worthsville Road in Johnson County have been closed due to a crash, and now there are reports of a second crash.
That closure has pushed traffic onto U.S. 31, and it was especially heavy this morning heading into Columbus.
Motorists were heeding warnings to slow down. Southbound traffic was traveling no more than 40 mph on U.S. 31 near Taylorsville.
Those speeds decreased to less than 20 mph at the Columbus city limits, where roads were especially slippery.
Some area schools have closed or on two-hour delays. Flat Rock-Hawcreek schools are closed due to icy road conditions. Click here for a complete list.
In neighboring Johnson County, a Franklin school bus slid off the road, and the school district has canceled classes.
Check back for updates.
— NWS Indianapolis (@NWSIndianapolis) January 24, 2018
Several counties have issued travel advisories. Advisories are issued by the individual counties at https://t.co/MWehyjwZXz
Even if your county hasn't issued an advisory please drive carefully. INDOT crews have been out overnight treating state roads & interstates #INDOTWinterOps pic.twitter.com/Xk8WDVCVg8
— INDOT (@INDOT) January 24, 2018