JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind. — County highway crews have made significant progress clearing roads throughout Tuesday, but emergency management officials are still urging drivers to be on the lookout for ice developing overnight.
Johnson, Boone and Madison counties joined several others in issuing Red Travel Warnings Tuesday morning. A Red Travel Warning means that travel may be restricted to emergency management workers only.
Johnson County Emergency Management Director Stephanie Sichting said the warning was due to dangerous conditions on secondary roads, especially in rural parts of the county that plow drivers hadn’t been to.
“They didn’t even have time to touch them overnight, with the blowing and drifting and all the snow,” Sichting said. “They’re working on those today.”
A Red Travel Warning is not intended to catch drivers who violate the warning, rather it’s a means of encouraging residents to keep off the roadways so road crews can clear them. It’s also a way to prevent emergency situations while emergency responders are having a hard time getting from place to place.
“They were having a hard time getting to them because the roads were so drifted over,” Sichting said.
Bargersville Assistant Fire Chief Mike Pruitt described extremely difficult conditions during the overnight hours between Monday and Tuesday.
“Overnight, our crews were responding to emergency calls, and we had to use a snowplow in three of those calls to even get access to people in need of medical attention,” Pruitt said.
By Tuesday afternoon, road conditions had improved enough for Johson and Madison counties to return to an Orange Travel Watch status.
“During a ‘watch’ local travel advisory, only essential travel, such as to and from work or in emergency situations, is recommended,” according to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. “And emergency action plans should be implemented by businesses, schools, government agencies, and other organizations.”
Seventeen Indiana counties remained under a Red Travel Warning as of Tuesday afternoon.
Sunshine on Tuesday also helped to melt and clear the roadways, Sichting said. However, she cautioned that dangerously cold temperatures in the forecast could result in refreezing overnight into Wednesday morning.
“The snow may be off of it, but it may be icy,” she said. “So we want everybody, if they have to be out, just go slow.”