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Snow ordinance helpful in knowing when to drive, when to just stay home

(Talk of the Town file photo by Jennifer Zartman Romano) Overlooking snow covered Little Cedar Lake in Thorncreek Township, above. Snow can be beautiful as it blankets our local lakes and fields, but it can be dangerous when it covers local roadways. A better understanding of our local snow ordinances may help you better understand when to drive and when to just stay home.  


By Jennifer Zartman Romano


We’ve already had a good dose of winter weather and we’ve only just begun!

As the snow piles up and road crews work hard to keep thoroughfares clear, we all have questions about snow emergencies – how will we know if we’re under one? What level of snow emergency means you shouldn’t drive? How many snow emergency levels are there? Can you be fined if you’re out driving in a snow emergency?

Talk of the Town will post any snow emergencies for Whitley County promptly after we are notified by the Whitley County Emergency Management office. Thanks to Whitley County Emergency Management director Cathy Broxon-Ball, we now have answers to many of your other questions as well.

For answers to your other questions, consult the Whitley County Snow Ordinance in the link below.


ORDINANCE NO. (2001-15)
WHEREAS,  The Board of Commissioners of Whitley County (“Board”) previously adopted Ordinance No 99-20 and Ordinance No. 2001-15, which has been codified as Section 8-20-8-1 of the Whitley County Code, and desires to amend and replace the same with this Ordinance;
WHEREAS,  it is the intent of this Ordinance to keep the residents of Whitley County informed of the weather and county road conditions, and assist the county highway department in clearing the county roadways by eliminating stranded vehicles, and
WHEREAS,  it is the duty of public officials to preserve the public safety and welfare of the residents of Whitley County, Indiana.
Section 1.    This ordinance shall be known as the Snow Emergency Ordinance of Whitley County, Indiana and shall apply to all roads, highways or right-of-way maintained by the Whitley County highway Department (“Roads”).
Section 2.    The Board, after consultation with the Whitley County Sheriff, the Emergency Management/Department Homeland Security Director, and the Whitley County Highway Director, if available, or the respective representative designated by each as the person to consult in his/her absence for the purpose of recommending a snow emergency declaration, may declare a snow emergency by executive order when, in the Board’s judgment, such order would be in the best interest of the public safety and welfare of the residents of Whitley County, Indiana.  If only one member of the Board is available, he/she can declare a snow emergency if at least two of said officials (or the respective designated representatives of each) also recommend a declaration.  If no members of the Board are available to declare a snow emergency, then all three of said officials (or the respective designated representatives of each) may declare a snow emergency.  The above mentioned Board members and/or officials or their respective designees who declare a snow emergency shall designate whether it is a Level 1 (declared)Snow Emergency or a Level 2 (Warning) Snow Emergency or a Level 3 (Watch) Snow Emergency based on the criteria set forth in section 3 below.  Such emergency shall continue in effect until the above mentioned Board members and/or Officials or their respective designees who declared the emergency thereafter determine an emergency no longer exists and terminate the emergency order.
Section 3.     A snow emergency declaration pursuant to this Ordinance shall consist of 3 levels in order to keep the residents of Whitley County, Indiana informed of the weather and county road conditions, and to assist County highway Department in the clearing of the county roadways by eliminating stranded vehicles:
3.1     A Level 1 (Red) Snow Emergency may be declared when Roads have become impassable and the County Highway Department are not able to keep the Roadways cleared due to severe snow fall and high winds producing high drifts and blizzard like conditions are present.  Travel may be restricted to emergency personnel ONLY and essential emergency travel by members of the public  Further restrictions that the Board deems necessary maybe enacted at this time.
3.2     A Level 2 (Orange) Warning Snow Emergency may be declared when conditions threatening to the safety of the public.  Only essential travel is recommended (i.e. to and from work, emergency situations, etc.).  Emergency action plans have been or should be implemented by businesses, schools, government agencies and other organizations.
3.3     A Level 3 (Yellow) Watch Snow Emergency may be declared when routine travel or activities may be restricted in areas of the county because of a hazardous situation; citizens should use caution or avoid these areas.  Schools and businesses may begin to implement their emergency action plans.
Section 4.                      Publication and broadcast of a Level 1, 2, or 3 Snow Emergency declaration order shall be made or caused to be made by the Board or other officials designating the level of the snow emergency using a press release to all Law Enforcement agencies, Fire Departments, Hospitals and News Media.  The declaration shall be filed with the Whitley County Emergency Management/Department of Homeland Security, State Department of Homeland Security, Whitley County Clerk and Whitley County Auditor.
Section 5.                      Those vehicles exempt from this Ordinance shall include medical assistance, law enforcement, fire department, emergency management, public utility, and fuel hauling vehicles, and employees of any of the above exempt services, if engaged in performing their respective duties.  Any other vehicles violating this Ordinance are subject to removal by towing or other means at the expense of the owner of the vehicle, when such towing and/or removal is deemed necessary by any one or more of the following: the County Highway Department, the County Sheriff’s Department, the State Conservation Officer, or the Indiana State Police.
Section 6.                      Any persons violating any provisions of this ordinance shall be guilty of the commission of  an infraction and may be fined any sum not to exceed $100.00 and such shall be enforceable in any court of law, duly authorized by Indiana State Law, and in addition to such fine the court shall be authorized to direct the violator to repay the County of Whitley any monetary losses or expenses incurred in the incident.


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I am hearing that Whitley County is under a level 4 emergency watch....what does that mean, if there are only 3 levels in Whitley County according to this notice?

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