County hit with snow, bitter cold weather: more on the way tonight?


After months of no precipitation that led to official calls for water conservation, Switzerland County got plenty of it during the past weekend – in the form of snow.

Switzerland County Highway Superintendent Chris Clerkin said that his crews went out on Sunday morning beginning at 8 a.m. and worked until 3 p.m.; then workers had a three-hour break before returning at 6 p.m. and working through the night.

Sunday night gave way to Monday morning, with workers continuing to plow and treat county roadways until 7 a.m. Monday morning – then they worked their normal shift.

“Basically we were out from Sunday morning until Monday evening,” Chris Clerkin said. “Then we called the guys back in late on Monday night. We’ve put in lots of hours.”

Chris Clerkin said that his crews are treating Switzerland County’s 300 miles of roadways with salt and cinders; and the county highway department consists of 16 workers, which are divided among the county’s three districts.

“We’re doing maintenance on the trucks today trying to prepare for more weather that’s supposed to be coming,” Chris Clerkin said yesterday (Wednesday) morning. “We’re not sure what’s coming, but we’re going to be ready for it.”

Chris Clerkin said that if motorists are out on county roads and encounter a highway truck, try and give the truck as much room as possible, either by pulling over into a driveway or crossroad; or by moving towards the ditch as much as you can.

“It’s easier for us to pull a car out of the ditch than it is to pull a loaded dumptruck out of the ditch,” Chris Clerkin said. “We just want everyone to drive safely.”

The weekend snowstorm forced the closure of the Switzerland County Schools on Monday, and Tuesday brought a two-hour delay in the school day. At this point the corporation has possible snow makeup days built into its calendar, so if students are able to get through the next few days, there shouldn’t be any adverse effects on the school corporation.

The last day for students before Christmas break begins is this Tuesday, December 21st.


With temperatures hovering in single digits and wind chill temperatures falling below zero, the best course of action in terms of health is to stay out of the weather as much as possible.

Switzerland County Nurse Practitioner Greg Fillenwarth said if people have to be outside, precaution and planning are the best ways to stay safe.

“People need to wear layers of clothing if they are going to be outside for any length of time,” Greg Fillenwarth said. “The longer you’re going to be outside, the more layers you need to wear, but don’t wear so much that you can’t function.”

Greg Fillenwarth said that if a person must be outside, or in the case of children playing outside, try and cover as much exposed skin as possible; and try and limit the amount of time that you are outside.

“I remember when I was a kid I used to be outside so long it seemed like I had icicles for toes,” Greg Fillenwarth said. “That’s probably not a good idea. Parents need to check on their children and bring them in to warm up so they don’t suffer from overexposure.”

While out in weather such as this, Greg Fillenwarth said that people need to monitor their condition in order to avoid hypothermia or frostbite.

The main sign is a whitening of the skin, especially on extremities such as fingers and toes.

“Certainly if their fingers and toes go numb, they should get inside,” Greg Fillenwarth said. “Numbness or white fingers or toes or any body part is something you need to look for. If you push on your skin and it doesn’t get red, that’s certainly a sign to come in out of the weather.”

The nurse practitioner said that if a person does show those signs, once inside it’s also very important to take precautions when warming back up. Greg Fillenwarth said that the natural tendency is to stick the body part under hot water in order to warm back up quickly, but doing so could cause tissue damage to that area.

“They should warm their skin back up slowly,” he said. “Put it in cool water and then gradually let it come up in temperature. Keep changing the water to a warmer temperature and warm up slowly in order to lessen the risk of damage.”

Greg Fillenwarth also said that should an area of skin or an extremity such as fingers and toes begin to turn black, that’s an indication that the person needs to seek medical attention.

“If they notice that it starts looking dark or black, or when they come in, if they can’t get their body part to pink back up, they probably should go somewhere and see somebody,” he said.


With snow still on the ground, the National Weather Service was calling for more snow for the Switzerland County area last night (Wednesday), as well as a wintry mix of snow and freezing rain today (Thursday).

The National Weather Service had issued a Winter Storm Warning for Switzerland County and other areas of Southern Indiana beginning at 10 p.m. last night (Wednesday) and running through 1 p.m. today (Thursday).

Forecasters say that the snow will likely mix with sleet and freezing rain, and total snowfall accumulations are expected to be three- to five-inches.

Lows are expected to be in the 20s and teens through the nighttime hours in the coming days, with wind chills creating sub zero temperatures, especially in the morning hours.

After the snow and ice leave the area today, forecasters are calling for cloudy conditions tomorrow (Friday), with highs in the upper 20s and a low of 17.

Sunny skies are forecast for the weekend, but don’t let the sunshine fool you, as temperatures will stay low, with a nighttime low on Saturday of 11 and Sunday of 16 – without the aid of windchill.

As the county enters Christmas week, temperatures are expected to remain in the low 30s and high 20s throughout Monday and Tuesday, with more snow and ice expected to come into the area on Wednesday and Thursday of next week.

The snow will bring a little warmer temperatures, expected in the high 30s; but nighttime hours throughout the week are expected to stay in the teens.

You’re best bet? Stay inside unless it is absolutely necessary, officials say.