For snow lovers — and they do exist — Wednesday’s big snow storm turned out to be a big bust.
But for those whose responsibility it is to keep roads clear and people safe, less snow is a welcome relief.
County highway workers and city street personnel prepared for the worst, but predictions of as much as 8 inches of snow didn’t materialize.
“We didn’t get as much as had been talked about,” said Larry Robbins, Vigo County engineer and highway director. However, visibility was low at times Wednesday morning and it snowed about 2 to 3 inches in some parts of the county.
Crews pre-treated roads early in the morning and started plowing after the snow began.
“The temperature was a little warmer, it rained just a little longer than they thought it was going to and I think the ground is pretty warm, … That helped us,” he said. “I think a lot of the snow melted as it fell.”
One group was scheduled to work 4 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and another crew noon to midnight, but Robbins anticipated the noon-midnight crew might finish early.
Early afternoon, roads were slushy and a little slick, and crews continued plowing.
“The melting and material on the road just kind of makes it a little sloppy out there,” Robbins said. However, the wet, compacted snow made it easier to plow.
As of noon, Indiana State Police Putnamville Post reported just three property damage accidents and four slideoffs.
Drivers did a good job of being careful and following recommended speed limits, said Sgt. Matt Ames, public information officer. “It’s been pretty quiet for us so far,” he said.
Ernie Meeks, Terre Haute street commissioner, around noon said that barring unexpected changes in weather or re-freezing, “I think we’re in pretty good shape.”
Crews had been out since late Tuesday “taking care of all the primaries and secondaries throughout the city … and we’ll continue to do so until they’re cleared. I don’t foresee us needing to stay much beyond today’s [Wednesday’s] shift.”
The city had spread salt/sand on bridges and overpasses and plowed where needed, but “it hasn’t been seriously needed at all,” Meeks said.
Primary streets “have been so well traveled they’ve pretty well taken care of themselves.”
He added, “It’s always nice when there’s less than what’s forecast, that’s for sure.”
Forecasts and concerns about significant snowfall prompted the Vigo County School Corp. and other area school districts to conduct e-learning days,
Indiana State University canceled on-campus classes and university offices closed, with only essential employees required to be on campus and report to work.
Jesse Walker, WTWO-TV 2 chief meteorologist, said the expected snowstorm “was kind of on course for a while,” but due to a combination of factors — air temperatures slightly above freezing, warm ground temperatures and a wet, heavy snow that compacted down — it all meant the accumulations didn’t materialize.
“Had the temperatures been slightly colder, had the ground been slightly colder and had the snow been slightly dryer, we would have had a little bit more,” Walker said.
Many places in the Wabash Valley reported 2 to 3 inches of snow, but within a few hours, it might have measured 1 to 11/2 inches because it melted or compacted, he said.
Vigo had reports of 2 to 4 inches, although 4 inches was rare and probably measured before it had a chance to melt or compact, he said.
The forecast included the potential for some minor snow showers overnight or Thursday morning.
Thursday and Friday, temperatures will be “chilly, but not bad,” Walker said. And the weekend is expected to be in the 40s with a system that could bring rain or a little rain/snow mix Sunday.
Temperatures will turn colder next week and “we might see a little more snow on Tuesday.”
As the week progresses, “It will definitely be more winter-like, with more chances for snow and more cold weather; as we round out January and start February, it will be much more winter like,” Walker said.
Mark Bennett of the Tribune-Star also contributed to this report.