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EARLIER: Schools reopen -- more snow expected

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By Lisa King

Shelby Countians managed to get through the season’s heaviest snowfall on Tuesday, but they might find the going even tougher today.

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Shelby County was hit with a 6-inch snowfall on top the 1-2 inches that fell on Saturday, giving the county a blanket of white that was enjoyed by students who stayed home from schools and adults whose businesses closed or had a short day.

With the temperatures hovering around freezing, they found the conditions comfortable enough to build snowmen, sled down hills and make homemade snow cream.

But more snow was forecast for Tuesday night and this morning, with winds picking up and temperatures falling. Gusts were expected to reach 30 mph, and the chill factor will be around zero today.

The bitter cold was expected to freeze slush and moisture on roads and make them particularly hazardous.

“So far so good – we haven’t had any power outages or anything – but it’s calling for some really cold temperatures with wind chills down around zero Tuesday night,” Emergency Management Agency Director Charlie Frazee said. “If that happens, then what melted today could refreeze and make for some really slick conditions.”

Shelbyville City Engineer Jennifer Herrell and County Roads Supervisor Carl Henry both expressed concern about today’s conditions.

“If water freezes in the pores in the surface of the road, it will create black ice, and that will be extremely slick,” Henry said.

He added that his crews will tackle that problem by keeping the roads salted today.

“Salt is a good abrasive agent, and it adds traction and also helps to melt ice,” he said. “People knew this was coming today [Tuesday] and acted accordingly. I just hope they will be as careful tomorrow [today].”

Tuesday went OK

Indeed, officials said that residents weathered the snow quite well – especially motorists.

“We have had some really good drivers today – just a very few accidents and none of them serious,” Sheriff Mike Armstrong said.

Shelbyville Police Maj. D. Goodwin agreed. “Believe it or not, we only worked one wreck and it was not bad,” he said.

Armstrong said that most drivers he observed on Tuesday were being more careful than usual.

“They were taking their time going to work, and I think a lot of people who didn’t absolutely have to be out stayed home, because there was a lot less traffic out than usual. And that really helped.”

Both Armstrong and Goodwin agreed that both city and county road crews did an excellent job of keeping roadways clear.

All-night road work

Henry said his crews pulled an all-nighter Monday night, hitting the road at 11:30 p.m.

“Well, I’m sitting on Scrabble Road - the worst road in the county - right now, and it’s looking good,” he said Tuesday morning. “We plowed up six inches of snow and got it done in record time.”

Henry said he was pleased that the public was appreciative of his exhausted crew’s efforts.

“We have just had a tremendous amount of calls today from people calling in to say ‘thank you’ and we want everyone to know that we appreciate that,” he said. “It puts a big smile on those guys’ faces - it really means a lot to them.”

Henry said that things went smoothly, even though he did have to have a truck towed in and replaced.

“Well, he [the driver] tried to turn around and got hung up and broke an axle,” he said, adding that he replaced the vehicle immediately with another, so as not to interrupt the plowing and salting.

Bruce Williamson, interim superintendent for Public Works, said city crews came in a 3 a.m.

“They had their work cut out for them because it kept coming down as fast as they could plow it, but they kept on top of it,” he said.

Williamson reported that city crews used 50 tons of salt on this most recent storm, compared to 225 tons used by county crews. To date, the city has used 357 tons this winter. Henry said the county still has 500 tons on hand and 800 more tons are on order.

“We are in good shape,” he said.