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Ice storm mostly bluster, little damage

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Residents had to chip ice off their cars before heading to work Friday and drive slowly to keep from sliding, but that could have been the last winter storm this season.

Ice coated most of Johnson County on Friday morning after a flurry of sleet and freezing rain the night before. As much as eight-tenths of an inch of sleet, freezing rain and snow descended on the county, according to the National Weather Service.

Few cars crashed, and roads were navigable. Johnson County schools weren’t closed. Less than a dozen Duke Energy customers in Greenwood lost power.

The ice storm could be the last major winter storm this season, though more freezing rain is expected early next week, National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Dahmer said.

“We’ve seen winter systems into March before, but we don’t see any other major systems for the foreseeable future,” he said. “We probably stand to see a little more frozen precipitation Monday into Tuesday, but it doesn’t appear to be that big of an accumulation.”

Roads were slick with ice after the storm, but only a handful of accidents took place. Most drivers are used to winter driving by February, Greenwood Police Department Assistant Chief Matt Fillenwarth said.

“It’s like Darwinism early in the winter season because the people who don’t heed the weather crash their cars,” he said. “By this time, people have had some experience driving in the winter weather and seem to slow down and be more cautious.”

The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office responded to one accident and three slide-offs between Thursday night and Friday morning. Franklin had one accident and one slide-off, where a truck went off Westview Drive into a ditch.

Indiana State Police responded to two slide-offs and one crash on Interstate 65, spokesman Rich Myers said.

One car that slid off the road struck and broke a Johnson County REMC pole, but the accident didn’t result in any outages.

The streets got safer as the hours passed  Friday morning, as road crews laid down salt and the temperatures rose above freezing.

Temperatures hovered in the upper 20s when a storm system that blew across the Midwest passed through Indiana, dumping as much as 1.2 inches of snow in the northern part of the state, Dahmer said.

Weather observers in Johnson County reported between a third of an inch and eight-tenths of an inch of snow, sleet and frozen rain at different locations.

Snow and sleet fell mostly at first around 7 p.m. Thursday. But then a layer of warm air melted the precipitation before it dropped into a colder layer near the surface, resulting in freezing rain later that night.

More freezing rain is expected early next week, but that’s the last winter precipitation that the National Weather Service currently predicts before the weather warms up, Dahmer said.

“Things can change, of course,” he said.

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