Raise your hand if you’ve had enough of this winter. Our hands are up also. Beginning before Thanksgiving, the winter of 2013-14 has been peppered by one cold, snowy blast after another. More than a week of school has been cancelled. Hundreds of events and activities have been either postponed or simply called off.
Frankly, it’s been one of the harshest winters of recent memory; not quite up to 1978 standards, but debilitating nonetheless.
As of noon Saturday, all of Northern Indiana and neighboring counties in Southwest Lower Michigan, were under a winter weather advisory. This advisory indicates that visibilities will be limited by snow and blowing snow caused by strong winds. Such conditions are challenging for road crews trying to keep roads clear, as a freshly-plowed roads can drift shut in a matter of minutes.
MOST OF THE U.S. 20/31 bypass in neighboring St. Joseph County was just down Friday night and remained closed throughout Saturday. Early Saturday the Indiana State Police tweeted about snow-packed and icy roads on I-80/94 and I-65, urging people to “Rethink your trip,” and stay off the Indiana Toll Road.
I-94 just south of Michigan City was the scene of a horrendous 40-vehicle pileup Thursday that killed three people and injured dozens more. One of the injured spent more than four hours trapped in his car before determined rescue crews could reach him.
There is nothing we can do about the weather. The only control we have is our choices in dealing with it. It is what it is, as they say, and there is no getting around that. We would encourage people to stay off the roads if at all possible when winter weather advisories are issued. And even when they’re not, respect dangerous conditions; don’t be in a hurry and drive, well, like its winter. There is no shame in taking it slow.
HERE ARE A FEW tips from the Elkhart County Police that we encourage you to consider:
• Check weather reports before traveling.
• Remove snow from your vehicle’s windows and lights.
• Inspect tires, wipers and fluids prior to snowfall.
• Keep cold-weather equipment in your vehicle, including non-perishable food, gloves, blankets, flashlights, shovel, jumper cables and a small bag of sand or salt in case you get stuck.
• Allow plenty of time to reach your destination.
• Reduce your speed.
• Give yourself extra distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.
• And brake early and softly.
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE is forecasting another 3 to 4 inches of snow in Elkhart County and 4 to 6 inches in parts of LaGrange County by 7 p.m. today. After that, another arctic cold blast will hit us, driving low temperatures below minus-10 degrees.
So, it certainly appears an already rough winter is going to get worse before it gets better. Therefore, be safe, take it slow, bundle up, clear those sidewalks and help those you can. After all, like it or not, we’re all in this winter mess together and spring will be here before you know it.