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Whitley County: Too cold to plow snow

Ice and snow are shown on a Whitley County Highway Department truck on Dec. 23, 2022, in the midst of a winter storm warming. (Provided Photo/Whitley County, Indiana, Highway Department)

COLUMBIA CITY, Ind. (WISH) — Whitley County officials on Friday morning pulled their snowplowing trucks off the roads because it’s too cold.

A Facebook post from the Whitley County Highway Department said, “It’s a tough call, but with the sustained 30mph wind, we aren’t making progress at all and -35 degree wind temps are just ridiculous.”

The county was one of at least two in northern Indiana to pull the plows from the roads on Friday.

Whitley County is west of Allen County, where Fort Wayne is located, in northeast Indiana. Whitley County’s population totals about 34,000.

The trucks were pulled at 11 a.m. Friday after five were “completely frozen up,” according to the post. The department expects it to take from three to five hours for the equipment to thaw.

The National Weather Service for Northern Indiana didn’t have snow totals for Whitley County, but nearby Fort Wayne had accumulated 1.2 inches by 1:44 a.m. Friday. At Fort Wayne International Airport, the wind topped 51 mph at 6:48 a.m. Friday.

The temperature at the FWA airport at noon was 5 below zero, although temperatures were colder overnight.

The Whitley County Highway Department’s post said, “The engines aren’t staying hot enough to keep them from being packed with ice.”

Photos from the highway department showed photos of iced components of snowplow trucks.

“Complete transparency, the drifts are substantial on the north/south roads and it’s so cold that our equipment can’t take it,” the post said.

At 11 a.m. Friday, the county was under a travel watch, the middle of three advisory levels for Indiana counties, according to Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

The department says it may not get back on the roads until 10 a.m. Saturday.

Whitley County and others in northern Indiana were expecting more snow showers through Saturday night. A winter storm warning was issued through 7 a.m. Saturday for the area, according to the National Weather Service.

Whitley County isn’t the only county to pull its snowplows. The commissioners in Jasper County pulled their trucks, too. The northwest Indiana county posted on its sheriff’s office’s Facebook page at 12:41 p.m. Eastern, “Due to the current weather event, the Jasper County Commissioners and the highway department will be pulling all snowplows from county roadways at 2:00 PM CST today, except for emergencies.”

Jasper County officials did not give any specifics on its snowplows being pulled off the roads. That county also under a travel watch, according to the state Homeland Security. Jasper County has more than 33,000 residents.