Wind, snow drift causing problems for Elkhart County highway crews

The Elkhart County Highway Department has about 25 people working in 12-hour shifts to plow snow.

Posted on Jan. 6, 2014 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Jan. 6, 2014 at 1:24 p.m.

ELKHART — Gusts of wind and drifting snow are creating challenges for highway crews trying to plow Elkhart County’s roads.

The county’s highway department has 25 drivers working around the clock in 12-hour shifts to remove snow from about 1,000 miles of road, but as of Monday morning, Jan. 6, many of the county streets were still “blown shut,” according to county commissioner Mike Yoder.

“The wind has picked up, and it’s covering the roads almost as quickly as we can plow them, so conditions on the county roads this morning are very, very poor,” he said. “In fact, some roads are just plain impassable.”

Winds picked up late Sunday afternoon, Jan. 5, and gusts are expected to be strong through Tuesday, Jan. 7, according to AccuWeather meteorologist Tom Kines.

“We’ve had trouble with snow plows getting stuck, and some of the drifts are three or four feet deep,” Yoder said Monday morning. “I know my road hasn’t been plowed yet, and the road near my dairy farm had snow two feet deep for a quarter mile. That’s here in Middlebury.”

Yoder said the county’s top priority is to clear snow from main roads.

“The residential areas are going to be last, and those could be a huge challenge,” he said. “We’re attempting to find private contractors to help get those opened up quicker, but even once the driving ban is lifted, there are still going to be employees that cannot get to work because they can’t get out of their residential subdivisions. That may take another day or two.”

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