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Heavy snow forecast, schools close

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With the threat of 6 to 10 inches of snowfall, on top of a shin sheet of ice, Bartholomew County’s two public school systems called off classes for today.

Bartholomew Consolidated and Flat Rock-Hawcreek school corporations both announced Thursday night that they were calling off school because of the incoming storm.

Other schools or school corporations that followed Thursday night with closing announcements were:

ABC Stewart Montessori School, Columbus.

St. Peter’s Lutheran School, Columbus.St. Paul Lutheran Preschool, Columbus.

White Creek Lutheran School, Wayne.

Jennings School Corp.

Medora Schools

Seymour Community Schools

Light rain that began Thursday night was expected to change over to a mix of freezing rain, sleet and snow early today. Up to a tenth of an inch of ice was expected before the precipitation turned to all snow before daybreak, according to the National Weather Service. Additionally, the potential for high winds could be making travel hazardous to impossible, the weather

service said.

Total snow accumulation was expected to taper off by tonight, meteorologist Mike Ryan said.

“If the storm goes further north than planned, we can expect more of a wintry mix,” Bartholomew County Emergency Management Director Dennis Moats said. “But if it goes further south, we’ll get more snow.”

That uncertainty, as well as Thursday’s rain, caused the Bartholomew County Highway Department to hold off on pretreating area roads for the winter storm, Superintendent Dwight Smith said. Had a mixture of salt and sand been put down early, it would have been washed off the pavement by the early rains, he said.

“It’s going to be tricky,” Smith said.

City bridge and street inspections were expected to get underway at 4 a.m. today, Columbus City Garage Manager Bryan Burton said.

“Our biggest concern is the ice, rather than the snow, because it’s harder to drive on,” Burton said. “But we’re also keeping a close eye on the temperature. Because once it drops into the high teens and low 20s, the salt doesn’t do much good.”

With a second round of winter weather expected Sunday that could bring an additional light accumulation of snow and ice, both Burton and Smith are worried about wearing out their crews this weekend.

“Both Dwight and I have small crews, so we’re not like the state with second- and third-shift employees who can take rotations,” Burton said. “We both have to be concerned about the fatigue and exhaustion that sets in when your crews go through it once and then have to start it all over again.”

For that reason, all residents of the county who live on secondary streets or roads may have to wait a little longer than normal for crews to clear their neighborhoods of ice and snow this weekend, both Smith and Burton said.

“We can’t be everywhere at once,” Smith said. “We believe people will be able to get around this weekend, but they just won’t be able to get there fast. Please have patience, and slow down.”

That same advice was emphasized by the county’s emergency management director.

“If you are going out, allow yourself plenty of time,” Moats said. “For example, if it normally takes you 15 minutes to get there, allow yourself 30 to 45 minutes of travel time.”

One of the biggest dangers is the potential for black ice, a thin coating of transparent ice on roads and bridges that causes skidding and subsequent accidents due to the loss of traction, Burton said.

Travelers are being advised to take along a small winter survival kit that may include blankets, water and power bars, Moats said.

Cancellations, postponements

Weather-related cancellations include:

Bartholomew Consolidated and Flat Rock-Hawcreek school corporation school corporations have canceled classes for today.

The self-guided “Christmas Homes Tour” originally scheduled for today in the Hope area has been postponed and now will be 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday. The Yellow Trail Museum will open at 4 p.m. Sunday to sell tickets. Information: 546-0640.

The Bald Eagles’ 72nd annual Pearl Harbor anniversary dinner and program, originally planned for today, has been rescheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 31 at the Seasons Lodge and Conference Center, 560 State Road 46, Nashville. Deadline for buying buffet dinner tickets, which cost $28 apiece, has been extended until late January.

A living Nativity planned for this evening at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Waymansville has been canceled and has not yet been rescheduled.

Today’s Arc of Bartholomew County annual meeting was postponed until Dec. 20.

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