Bad weather is headed our way, dumping ice and snow on Bartholomew County roadways beginning this afternoon.
Today’s forecast calls for 1 to 2 inches of snow, as well as up to an inch of ice, the National Weather Service in Indianapolis said.
After midnight, another 3 to 5 inches of snow is expected, for a total accumulation of 4 to 7 inches in Bartholomew County, the weather service said.
The snow is expected to taper off during the day Wednesday, when a 40 percent chance of snow is forecast. Then after a respite from snow for a couple of days, more is expected Friday through Sunday.
Despite shortages of road-treatment materials experienced a few weeks ago, city and county road crews this time expect to have an ample amount of road salt to apply.
In recent days, nine trucks delivered 200 tons of salt to the Bartholomew County Highway Garage, with another 150 tons on back-order, county highway engineer Danny Hollander said.
County highway officials have made arrangements to obtain an additional 1,200 tons from a Texas firm at a price of $191 a ton, commissioners chairman Carl Lienhoop said. That’s more than triple the $60-a-ton price that the county paid earlier for salt.
“It’s kind of a stickup without a gun,” Lienhoop said. “Any time you have to pay three times the going rate, it seems like a black market. But who can say how much more snow and ice we’ll have this winter, and how do you place a dollar value on saving a life?”
Meanwhile, the Columbus City Garage has 750 tons of salt on hand, with another 500 tons expected to arrive within the next 10 days, garage manager Bryan Burton said. The 750 tons should be adequate to handle whatever comes Columbus’ way this week, he said.
Meanwhile, utilities serving Bartholomew County customers also are getting ready for today’s arrival of ice or snow.
Duke Energy is preparing crews for possible service outages because of ice accumulation.
Duke vehicles are being stocked with supplies needed for system repairs and fuel. The electric utility’s customer service center is checking staffing to handle additional calls, Duke spokeswoman Angeline Protegere said.
Duke is encouraging customers to check their supplies of flashlights, batteries, bottled water, nonperishable foods and medicines in the event the ice causes a power outage.
Bartholomew County REMC has added an additional lineman crew to be ready during the storm, REMC spokeswoman Marty Lasure said.
The company provides electric service to much of rural Bartholomew County.
REMC is keeping a close watch on forecasts for ice accumulation, which can cause outages when wires can’t handle the additional weight.
“We’ve braved these storms before, but they usually involve more prolonged outages,” she said.
REMC has just added a live outage map to its website at bcremc.com, so customers can see where the company is working during the storm.
Silgas, located near U.S. 31 and County Road 550N, also has taken steps to ensure it won’t run out of LP gas to provide to customers, Lienhoop said.