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Car-Train Collision in Rensselaer

No injuries were reported in a train-car collision in Rensselaer early today. Rensselaer Police Chief Jeff Phillips says at 5:30 this morning at the CSX tracks at North Cullen Street a motorist reportedly went around downed gates and the front end of that person's vehicle was struck by an oncoming freight train. Chief Phillips says the driver of the car was cited for failure to stop at the crossing signal....
 

Winter Storm, Polar Plunge, Then 'Sundogs'

sundogsteve
The severe winter weather in northwest Indiana was followed by numerous 'sundog' sightings Tuesday.  The National Weather Service in Chicago describes 'sundogs' as "a pair of brightly colored spots on the circumference of the sun halo, often located directly apart from each other.  They form as a result of sunlight being refracted by ice crystals.  These are most commonly caused by cirrus clouds which are composed of ice crystals.  However, crystals were present in the lower atmosphere on January 6th due to both blowing snow as well as light cloud development. Because the lower atmosphere was so cold these lower clouds were composed of ice crystals."  You can see photos from around Indiana and Illinois submitted to the National Weather Service.   Click here to see them: https://www.facebook.com/US.NationalWeatherService.Chicago.gov    
(Photo/Colleen Zana, Zana Photography)
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Water Main Break Closes Food Bank NWI

Food Bank of Northwest Indiana will be closed today due to a water main break, said Megan Sikes, spokeswoman for the Food Bank.  Please check the Food Bank's website for updates in terms of when they will reopen:  http://www.foodbanknwi.org .  The Food Bank of Northwest Indiana was closed Monday and Tuesday due to the winter storm, and they were hoping to reopen today until the water main break....
 

Difficulty Finding Regular Unleaded

Getting things from here to there just about everywhere in the state, and especially the Region, has been especially difficult due to the winter storm... we got a call today from a listener in Lake County who said he had to go to several gas stations to find regular unleaded gasolene... he said he was told tankers have been unable to get to some stations, and that he found regular unleaded and unleaded plus were out in several locations. He said he was able to find regular unleaded at a station on US 30 in Merrillville....
 

Crews Battle Whiting House Fire

Ice formed on fire hoses Tuesday as crews battled a house fire in the 19-hundred block of Indianapolis Boulevard in Whiting Tuesday. Firefighters from Whiting and East Chicago responded responded around 10 am. The homeowner tells today's Times her husband, tired from a long night of work, fell asleep, forgetting about a pot boiling on the stove. She was at work when she got the call her house was on fire. Her husband reportedly got out okay. An employee at the Walgreen's across the street is said to have spotted smoke, telling a Coca-Cola delivery man who ran over and pounded on the door....
 

Some Warnings Lifted, but Roads Still Hazardous

State agencies are strongly advising motorists to stay off the roads unless travel is absolutely necessary, even if county travel isn't at “warning” level, which means travel may be restricted to emergency workers only.  At last check, Lake, Porter, LaPorte and Starke Counties were under a travel watch, Jasper and Pulaski Counties remained at travel warning level, and Newton was now in an advisory.  Here's a link to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security Travel Status Map (refresh for latest info):  http://www.in.gov/dhs/traveladvisory
All roads from south central Indiana and through all of northern Indiana remain a combination of ice-covered to snow-packed and ice-covered with bridges and overpasses remaining extremely slick and hazardous.
If travel is absolutely necessary, residents should plan ahead by dressing appropriately for the extreme cold, have a fully charged cell phone with a portable charger and only use a car that is in good mechanical condition with a full tank of fuel.
Stranded motorists should call for help immediately. Be prepared to call a tow service and understand calls for tow services are exceeding capacity to respond, which means motorists could be waiting several hours before help arrives. The Joint Information Center in Indiana says while waiting for the tow truck, remember that on average a vehicle will burn one gallon of fuel per hour while idling. If low on fuel, run the engine in 15 minute increments to keep warm.
Information on state highways can be found through INDOT’s TrafficWise Traveler Information Service at   http://www.trafficwise.in.gov Conditions are constantly changing. Even if roads are not closed with signs or by designation, travel may still be hazardous.
And even if your county is not designated as “red,” the highest warning on the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) travel advisory map, travel conditions still may not be safe for driving. To view the IDHS County Travel Status map, go to (  http://www.in.gov/dhs/traveladvisory/ ) .
 ...
 

Cook County Jail to Resume Inmate Visitation/Discharge

Cook County Sheriff
The Cook County Sheriff's Office reports they will resume inmate visitation as scheduled tomorrow. Additionally, they say weather conditions will be safe enough to resume the normal inmate discharge process. A link for visitors to access the visiting hours for each jail division is available at http://cookcountysheriff.org/...

 

Coats Votes To Consider Unemployment Extension

senator-coats-sm
The Senate has agreed to move ahead on considering restoring long term unemployment insurance payments but ABC News eports there is no guarantee on a final deal as the next step in the unemployment debate is even steeper. At the heart of the disagreement: should Congress cut $6-billion from other govt programs to pay for the emergency benefits for a million or more who struggle to find jobs past the initial six months. Republicans say yes. The president says no.
Indiana US Senator Dan Coats says, while he opposes the current bill, he voted to proceed with considering the extension. Senator Coats says he would oppose final passage of the bill if senators are obstructed from offering amendments. ...

 

Hammond PD to Red Tag Snow-Covered Cars

hammond Snowbound car
(Photo Courtesy of Hammond Police Chief Brian Miller)
In Hammond, police report they will begin red tagging snow-covered vehicles left in the streets tomorrow and Thursday and towing vehicles 72 hours later. Police Chief Brian Miller says the streets are narrow with large piles of snow and they would appreciate you getting your vehicles off the road to assist the city's Public Works Department to get them cleaned up. Chief Miller says temperatures rose to three-degrees above zero today in Hammond and temperatures should continue to rise throughout the remainder of the week. ...
 

81st Avenue at IN/IL State Line Reopened

Dyer PD
81st Avenue at the Indiana/Illinois state line has been reopened. Dyer Police report motorists are advised to drive with extreme caution and only travel if necessary. Police report the road closure there was necessary to keep the road closed to ensure safety for motorists and first responders while town snow plows worked on the road. ...
 

INDOT: Roads Extremely Icy, May Worsen Overnight

Indot Logo color
INDOT reports that as of 2:45pm this afternoon they have made progress plowing snow covered roads in northwest Indiana but extremely hazardous icy conditions remain and conditions may worsen overnight. Many of the roads that had narrowed traffic to one-lane by heavy snow are now cleared to two lanes, and the majority of roads are passable. In light of that though, INDOT is asking the public to refrain from any non-emergency travel through tomorrow and if you must venture out then please drive slowly and leave plenty of room between vehicles and give INDOT plows plenty of room to work.
Drivers in Northwest Indiana can monitor road closures, road conditions, and traffic alerts at any time via the District’s social media channels: www.Facebook.com/INDOTNorthwest or Twitter @INDOTNorthwest. Or visit  http://www.trafficwise.in.gov for INDOT’s TrafficWise Traveler Information Service....
   

Power Restored to Almost 800 in Munster

Almost 800 electric customers in Munster were without power for over an hour this afternoon. According to NIPSCO's Outage Map, the outage was first reported at 1:17pm today and a total of 772 customers were reportedly without electricity until power was restored just before 3pm this afternoon. A cause of the outage is unknown at this time. ...
   

Numerous Crashes Due to Cold, Black Ice and Speeding

isp cold temp crash
(Photo Courtesy of Indiana State Police Lowell Post
of a jack-knife semi at Cline)
Troopers from the Indiana State Police Lowell Post have been busy all day with numerous crashes, slide-offs and spin-outs. State Police report extreme icy conditions persist on all roads due to the subzero temperatures, and they ask drivers to be especially careful when going over bridges, overpasses, underpasses and ramps. The formation of black ice is being reported in some locations and icy roads should be expected on all roads across northwest Indiana through tomorrow (Wednesday), when temperatures are expected to become more favorable for chemical melting agents and plows. Meanwhile if you are out on the roads, slow down, as the majority of calls today to State Police were due to drivers traveling too fast for the road conditions.
At last check Lake, Porter, LaPorte and Starke counties are under a travel watch while Newton, Jasper and Pulaski counties remain under a travel warning.
For the latest information from the Indiana State Police, visit our new webpage dedicated to the snow storm at  http://www.in.gov/isp/3096.htm. This page will flow much like a blog and will be in operate throughout the duration of inclement weather situation.
For Indiana road conditions call 1-800-261-7623, or visit the Indiana Department of Transportation website at www.trafficwise.in.gov. In partnership with the Governor’s office, Indiana Department of Transportation, Indiana Department of Homeland Security, Indiana Department of Education and the Red Cross more information can be found at the following website
 http://www.crh.noaa.gov/news/display_cmsstory.php?wfo=ind&storyid=59664&source=0....
   

Change in Waste Management Schedule in Munster

town of Munster
In Munster, Waste Management this afternoon pulled their crews off the streets because of the weather conditions. Town officials report Waste Management will double-up Monday's route with the route to be completed on Thursday. All other days this week will be one-day late. So if your regular pick up is Tuesday, now it is on Wednesday, Wednesday pick up is now Thursday and so on. For any questions please contact the Munster Public Works Department at 836-6970....
   

Valpo Trash and Recycling Pick-up Postponed

City of valpo
In Valparaiso, Public Works Director Matt Evans says they have postponed trash and recycling services for a second straight day due to the subzero weather. Evans reports the trucks just aren't functioning properly in these extreme temperatures. The delay means that Monday's trash will be picked up tomorrow (Wednesday), Tuesday's on Thursday, tomorrow's (Wednesday) on Friday and Thursday's on Saturday, with the regular schedule resuming on Monday, January 13th....
   

State of Emergency Lifted in LaPorte County

The State of Emergency for LaPorte County was lifted as of noon today, and as a result the county's travel status has been changed to “watch”, which means conditions are still threatening to the safety of the public. Only essential travel such as to and from work or emergency situations are recommended and emergency action plans should be implemented by businesses, schools, government agencies and other organizations.
A wind chill warning remains in effect for LaPorte, Starke and Pulaski counties until 6pm tonight. ...

   

INDOT Stresses Danger of Icy Roads


From Indiana Department of Transportation:
Severe Winter Weather Update #2 – 1/7/14
All roads extremely icy and hazardous, conditions not expected to improve until tomorrow
 
NORTHWEST INDIANA – As of 10 a.m. Central Time/11 a.m. Eastern time INDOT is stressing the danger on all Northwest Indiana roads to motorists. The majority of roads are now passable after a long night by INDOT plow crews battling drifting snow. But extreme icy conditions persist on all roads due to the subzero temperatures.
Looks can Be Deceiving: Sunny weather and roadways free of most loose snow may give drivers the impression that road conditions are better than they actually are. Road salt is less effective in these subzero temperatures, and sheet of ice should be expected on all roads across Northwest Indiana, likely through tomorrow, when temperatures are expected to become more favorable for chemical melting agents and plows.
Those who must travel are asked to be prepared for these conditions before leaving and to adjust driving behaviors in order to arrive at destinations safely. Take it slow, while leaving plenty of room between vehicles, and give our plows plenty of room to work. Crashes, slide-offs and traffic backups further hinder INDOT’s snow and ice removal efforts and jeopardize the safety of others.
INDOT is asking the public to refrain from any non-emergency travel through tomorrow. All counties in Northwest Indiana remain under a “Watch” or “Warning” status, limiting travel to essential or emergency purposes, respectively. To see an updated map of county travel advisories provided by each county’s emergency management agency, go to http://www.in.gov/dhs/traveladvisory...
   

State: Winter Storm Morning Update Tue Jan 07 2014

This update is courtesy of the Indiana Joint Information Center:
Winter Storm Morning Update: Tuesday January 7, 2014
Weather Outlook
Heavy snowfall totals can be found throughout Central and Northern Indiana. Some locations are reporting totals of up to 15 inches. The southern portion of the state received significantly less snowfall, however some locations are reporting up to 8 inches of snow.
Today, dangerously low temperatures continue into the morning. High temperatures are expected to finally creep back into positive digits as the day progresses, with a high temperature of 6° forecasted for Indianapolis. The warm up is expected to continue overnight, with highs Wednesday approaching 30°.
Governor Pence’s Executive Order
Governor Michael R. Pence signed an executive order on January 6, that declares a state of disaster emergency for 29 counties affected by the severe winter weather that began on Sunday, January 5. The counties are: Clinton, Delaware, Elkhart, Fulton, Grant, Howard, Jasper, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Lake, LaPorte, Madison, Marshall, Montgomery, Newton, Noble, Porter, Pulaski, Rush, St. Joseph, Starke, Steuben, Sullivan, Tipton, Vermillion, Vigo, Wabash, White, and Whitley.
Local Declarations
The following counties have locally declared a state of disaster emergency: Allen*, Boone*, Clinton, Delaware, Elkhart, Fulton, Grant, Greene*, Henry*, Howard, Jasper, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Lake, LaPorte, Madison, Marshall, Miami*, Montgomery, Morgan*, Newton, Noble, Owen*, Perry*, Porter, Pulaski, Randolph*, Rush, St. Joseph, Starke, Steuben, Sullivan, Tipton, Vermillion, Vigo, Wabash, White, and Whitley.
* Indicates counties that declared a state of disaster emergency after the governor’s executive order. These counties may be added.
Travel Advisories
Red counties (travel warning): 42
Orange counties (travel watch): 30
Yellow counties (travel advisory): 13
White counties (no restrictions): 7
The IDHS County Travel Status Map can be found here: http://www.in.gov/dhs/traveladvisory/.
Drivers are strongly urged to evaluate road conditions. East-west roads are generally significantly better than north-south roads, as winds can cause drifting snow on north-south roads. Drivers should take the time to evaluate travel routes and be alert for snow drifts and low visibility. Information on state highways can be found through INDOT’s TrafficWise Traveler Information Service at http://www.trafficwise.in.gov
Since Sunday, 105 flights have been cancelled at Indianapolis International Airport. The airport remains open, however travelers should check with their airline to see the status of their flights. The following link provides up-to-the-minute information on flight statuses at Indianapolis International airport: http://www.indianapolisairport.com/flightstatus.aspx
Shelters
There are 41 shelters are currently open. The open shelters have a total occupancy of 316, with a total capacity of 1,998. There are 9 shelters on standby/alert. In 23 counties, there is at least one open shelter.
State Emergency Operations Center Status
The SEOC remains at an increased activation level, with approximately 20 personnel. Positions in the SEOC include: ESF 1 Transportation (Indiana Department of Transportation), ESF 6 Mass Care (Red Cross), ESF 8 Health (Indiana State Department of Health), ESF 12 Energy (Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission), ESF 13 Law Enforcement (Indiana State Police), ESF 15 External Affairs (Indiana Department of Homeland Security), and Indiana National Guard. IDHS is staffing logistics, planning, fiscal, and administration positions.
Agencies’ Operations
INNG: Indiana National Guard has 47 Highway Assistance Teams (HAT) and 318 guardsmen deployed. HAT teams assist local law enforcement, emergency medical services, and public safety professionals in life saving operations. Teams have transported individuals to shelters and dialysis clinics, rescued stranded motorists and law enforcement, and performed route recon to help authorities determine safe travel routes. As of 5:00 a.m. Tuesday, INNG has assisted 35 stranded motorists, 20 law enforcement agencies, transported 25 citizens, performed 29 route recons, and conducted 18 presence patrols. Teams are beginning life safety patrols on state roads and US highways in Districts 2 through 7. Counties in each district can be found on the following map: http://www.in.gov/dhs/2797.htm
ISP: Indiana State Police is patrolling roads, assisting with individuals who may have trouble travelling or who are stranded. ISP is also responding to slide offs and jackknifed semis.
INDOT: Indiana Department of Transportation has 512 trucks operating statewide. I-80/94 from US 421 (mile 34) to the Illinois State Line reopened at 3 p.m. EST Monday, after an overnight closure due to heavy snow. I-65 from Gary to Lafayette was briefly reopened, however, at 6:30 p.m. EST Monday, I-65 was closed again from US 30 to IN-26. At 10:00 a.m. EST, I-65 was reopened from US 30 to IN-26.
All lanes on I-65 northbound from exit 76 to exit 95 are closed indefinitely due to road conditions and multiple jackknifed semis. However, the low temperatures are making it difficult for salt to melt the ice and snow that needs to be removed.
IDHS: Indiana Department of Homeland Security is the coordinating agency for this incident, providing logistics, planning, fiscal, administrative, and leadership positions in the SEOC. IDHS also has field staff across the state who are assisting local agencies.
Deaths and Injuries
One death has been confirmed in Henry County. A 41-year-old male was killed in a traffic crash at US 40 and SR3 on Sunday. No other deaths or injuries have been reported to this point.
Power Outages
There are currently 21,657 power outages statewide, down from a peak of 71,162. The majority of the power outages (12,692, IPL) are in the Indianapolis area....
   

House Fire in Whiting

In Whiting today, at about 10:30 am this morning crews were reportedly at the scene of a house fire in the 1900 block of Indianapolis Boulevard... Everyone reportedly got out okay, but we don't have that confirmed yet.  There were flames apparently showing from the top of the structure earlier.  Part of Indianapolis Boulevard had to be closed off for fire crews....
   

Region's Icy Roads Worsening

TRAFFIC ALERT: Schererville Police are asking motorists to avoid the very busy intersection of US 30 and US 41 if at all possible, especially the area on US 41 just south of US 30 near the entrance and exit to Teibel's Restaurant.   Police say the highway is completely iced over and there have been several accidents in the past few hours in that area this morning.


We are getting multiple reports of extremely icy conditions, including State Road 49 in Porter County, where the highway was described as a sheet of ice from Vale Park Road to the Porter County Sheriff's Department.


In Dyer, at 9 am CST today (1/7) Dyer Police closed 81st Avenue (S-Curve) at the Indiana/Illinois State Line.  Dyer Police say icy road conditions have made it dangerous for passing motorists, police, tow truck personnel and town plow truck drivers working in the area to assist stranded motorists.  81st Avenue turns into Steger Rd. in Illinois. Alternate routes for east and west traffic are Exchange/101st Avenue or Rt 30.  Police say they will reopen the road as soon as conditions allow.  Any questions, please contact the Dyer Police Department non-emergency at 219-865-1163....

In Wanatah, LaPorte County Coroner John Sullivan speaking in his capacity as a member of the Cass-Clinton Fire Department is urging motorists to stay away from the intersection of US 30 and US 421, where there have been numerous accidents over the past few hours.  "I mean it's a skating rink, just a solid sheet of ice," Sullivan told the Region News Team shortly before 11 am CST today, "I cannot stand up on the road it's that bad."  Sullivan says the entire intersection of US 421 and US 30 is extremely dangerous, a "solid sheet of ice", where motorists have no control of their vehicle on US 30. 

In Hobart, State Road 51 is also described as a "skating rink".

   

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