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Winter storm ‘rocks’ the county

PRINCETON – The winter storm, dubbed “Rocky” by the Weather Channel, barreled through the county beginning midmorning Tuesday, bringing heavy snowfall and high winds, which continued until later in the evening.

The conditions seemed to stay calm throughout Tuesday night, but snow flurries began to fall early Wednesday morning and continued throughout the day.

Tuesday’s conditions caused early dismissal of schools throughout the county, and numerous after-school sports and activities were canceled, along with evening community events.

Bureau County Sheriff John Thompson said his deputies were non-stop busy as they responded to 20 weather-related accidents throughout Tuesday. He said the accidents ranged from a vehicle-rollover accident on Route 40 near Buda to numerous cars in ditches widespread throughout the county. Although there were numerous calls, Thompson said it was a fortunate thing that most accidents involved no serious injuries.

“I drove home yesterday (Tuesday) around 4:30 p.m. and didn’t experience any difficulties,” he said. “I thought the roads were safe enough, and I think it proved to be that most of the accidents were caused by people in a hurry and driving beyond the speed limit.”

Thompson said Illinois State Police District 17 had every trooper on the roadways assisting with weather-related accidents. The state police issued snow travel advisories on Tuesday and urged motorists to plan ahead and take necessary precautions while traveling. They released a statement explaining they were handling numerous vehicles that had lost control due to snow on the roadways.

An ISP press release said, “If travel is not necessary at this time it is not advised.”  Although it was an active day for troopers, it was a quiet one for Princeton EMS. Princeton Fire Chief Chuck Woolley confirmed Wednesday the department hadn’t responded to any weather-related accidents throughout the storm.

John Gross of the Bureau County Highway Department confirmed county road crews were out as early as 10 a.m. Tuesday and worked a good 12 hours clearing and maintaining the roadways. He said crews were back on the roads at 4 a.m. Wednesday. He said they were prepping for freezing drizzle and the additional snow fall. He estimated about 300 tons of materials had been used to clear the roads throughout Tuesday, which wasn’t more than expected. He said it helped that roads were warmer before the snowfall, which helped turned some snow into slush, making it easier for crews to clear.

Gross said the conditions weren’t as bad as they could have been. He said the most remarkable thing was the amount of drifting on the roadways, which he explained was unusual to see with such heavy wet snow.

WQAD News 8 meteorologist James Zahara reported a 6-inch accumulation of snow from the storm on Wednesday morning. He reported flurries and light snow would continue throughout the day and said afterwards, a high pressure ridge would provide tranquil weather as temperatures would remain around the freezing mark throughout the weekend.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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