Winter weather creates mess; school officials cancel classes ahead of storm, city offices close early

A winter storm that passed through south central Indiana on Friday left behind scores of cancellations and some messy driving conditions but little else for Jackson County residents.

The potential threat of ice with snow piled on top of it and high winds led to the cancellation of schools on Friday and sporting events and other activities over the weekend including the annual Special Olympics of Indiana basketball tournament at Seymour Middle School today.

Local school officials made the decision to cancel Thursday afternoon after the National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning.

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Lt. Andy Wayman with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department said by canceling school, officials helped keep people off the roads which led to very few calls of accidents and slideoffs.

“So far, so good,” Wayman said early Friday afternoon. “We’ve not had a lot of accidents and nothing serious out in the county.”

He also said he didn’t think temperatures dropped as much as weather forecasters said they would, which helped too.

“With the temperatures not being quite as low as they thought, the roads are in fairly good shape,” he said. “It’s not ideal, but it’s not terrible.”

Wayman said he didn’t know what to expect Friday night and Saturday. He was just glad that early predictions of 18 inches of snow didn’t materialize, but snow is a lot easier to deal with than ice, he added.

“Going into the weekend, people don’t have to get out as much, so maybe it won’t be so bad,” he said. “The county and state highway departments have been out here and done an excellent job with the roads.”

Seymour Mayor Craig Luedeman made the decision to close city hall and all other city departments early Friday based on weather forecasts and information he received from the county’s emergency management agency that it was supposed to get worse as the day went on.

“I did not feel it was going to be safe for people coming to city hall and for our workers to drive home,” Luedeman said.

Seymour Police Chief Bill Abbott said he hadn’t heard of any issues in the city caused by the weather.

“We haven’t worked any accidents, just been busy with shoplifters,” he said. “Actually, things have been light, even for a Friday.”

The National Weather Service in Indianapolis did issue a flood warning Friday afternoon for portions of the East Fork White River and Muscatatuck River after one to two inches of rain fell in portions of southern and central Indiana late Thursday night and early Friday.

The rains fell before the cold front moved through.

Lowland flooding was expected to develop along portions of both rivers during the weekend because of the rain, but significant flooding is not expected. Flooding will affect a few local and state roads, low agricultural land and some river parks, and flood waters on roads will freeze.

At 2 p.m., the East Fork White River at Rockford was at 8.17 feet and forecast to climb to 13.6 feet at 1:15 a.m. Monday before retreating. Flood stage is 12 feet.

Police reported few problems on area roads after the cold front made its way through the area.

Sgt. Stephen Wheeles with the Indiana State Police post at Versailles reported shortly after 3 p.m. that there was a slideoff on northbound Interstate 65 at the 55-mile-marker.

“Most of our issues seem to be from the 55-mile-marker north,” he said.

Wheeles also investigated a wreck at about 10 a.m. Friday on Interstate 65 near the 55-mile-marker.

Luckily, no injuries were reported in that wreck which led to the closure of northbound lanes for a short time, he said.