INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana residents continued digging out Thursday from a winter storm that brought life to a standstill in southern parts of the state where blizzard conditions buried some areas under a foot of snow — their heaviest accumulations in several years.
Greene County Emergency Management director Roger Axe said the 12 inches of wet snow that fell Wednesday on the southwestern Indiana county left local roads so mired the county's sheriff got stuck for about an hour before his car was freed.
Axe said he expects road crews to finish up Friday clearing county roads of the region's heaviest snowfall since a March 1996 storm dumped 22 inches of snow. But he said it may take residents longer to finish clearing their driveways.
"We're just digging out, slow but sure," Axe said.
In Indianapolis, where the storm's 7.5-inch snowfall was the deepest in nearly four years, officials hired 350 private snow-removal trucks to help clear residential roads.
Department of Public Works spokeswoman Lesley Malone said those contractors allowed the city to clear an additional 4,000 miles of residential streets in areas that lack neighborhood associations that handle snow-plowing duties. City crews cleared nearly another 7,000 miles of streets, she said.
Malone said 90 trucks were out again Thursday salting and treating cleared roads and officials were urging motorists to slow down due to the risk of roads freezing and creating dangerous, hard-to-see sheets of ice.
The National Weather Service released a snowfall map Thursday showing that Wednesday's storm buried four pockets of southwestern, south-central and southeastern Indiana with about a foot of snow. The storm dropped up to 3 inches of snow an hour in some areas.
The town of Ellettsville about 50 miles south of Indianapolis was blanketed by 13 inches of snow — the most of any Indiana community, the weather service said.
Jim Ragle, street commissioner in the town of 5,000 residents northwest of Bloomington, said his crews worked all day Wednesday and overnight to clear the Monroe Count town's roads.
"We've got a lot of snow piles around, but other than that we're in pretty good shape," he said. "We're all ready for the next storm now, I guess."