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UPDATE: Rock County Road Conditions

UPDATED: Wednesday, February 2, 2011 --- 9:15 p.m.
REPORTER: Chris Woodard

The problems continue in Rock County tonight 24-hours after a treacherous evening that saw so many cars in the ditch the national guard had to be called in to help with rescues.

Tonight the Rock County Sheriff's Office is still asking driver's to stay off the roads and it's easy to see why.

Roads are still snow covered and layered with sand.

Tonight conditions in Rock County are so treacherous plows are getting stuck.

The snow is so heavy, earlier this evening the blade of a plow broke trying to clear a path through snow drifts more than 10 feet tall.

It's been a wicked 24 hours.

Captain Gary Groelle with the Sheriff's Office says, "We still feel it's very dangerous out there. We still have a lot of vehicles that are stranded."

The problems started last night with 205 calls for service including 91 stalled vehicles and 58 runoffs.

The National Guard was called in to help with rescues. Highway 14 from the Janesville city limits all the way East to the county line was closed until this afternoon. Snowmobiles were used to get to those who were stranded and the guard helped out into the evening tonight, sheriff's office four wheel drives no match for the snow drifts.

Tonight the drifts were so big many county roads had spots where only one lane was cleared. Those drifts towered over 10-feet tall.

Along CTH A drifts covered the road in both directions and trapped Jennifer Sommerfeldt and her family at home.

She says, "There was a truck stuck in the middle of the road. I mean you couldn't see it until you were in it."

A one lane path finally cleared tonight the Sommerfeldt family, like many in the area are happy they made it through the last 24 hours.

The concern tonight is more wind blowing around the snow that is already on the ground, possibly recovering the roads. Snow plows will be out again beginning at 4 am and in Rock County they're hoping for good roads by morning.

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UPDATED Wednesday, February 2, 2011 --- 4:00 p.m.

UPDATE from the Rock County Sheriff's Department:

As of 4:00PM this afternoon, Rock County road conditions are improving, however travel is still not advised. Snowplows have been fully deployed throughout the day, and are assisting deputies’ efforts to provide relief for stranded motorists. Although progress is being made, several east/west county roads are impassible. With snowfall coming to an end, high winds continue to affect roadways by drifting snow.

As of 9:00PM yesterday evening, sheriff’s deputies have responded to 205 calls for service. Of the 205 calls, 91 stalled vehicles due to the snowstorm, and 58 occupied runoffs. County Highway crews will continue to work on clearing roadways until 8:00PM, and will again resume work at 4:00AM.

As a result of this information, the Sheriff’s Office continues to recommend that motorists avoid travel if at all possible for their own safety and the safety of first responders who have to respond to accidents in these dangerous circumstances.

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UPDATED Wednesday, February 2, 2011 --- 11:00 a.m.

UPDATE from the Rock County Sheriff's Department:

As of 10:30AM, Rock County has been under a blizzard watch for approximately 20 hours. The amount of snowfall is tapering off, however, strong winds are continuing. As a result, roadways are continuing to be affected by drifting snow. Snow plows have been fully deployed for a considerable amount of time and are assisting deputies’ efforts to provide relief for stranded motorists. In addition, the National Guard is continuing to assist as well.

At 10:38AM, USH 14 East has been declared impassable and is closed to all vehicular traffic. This closure covers from the Janesville city limits to the Walworth County Line. Another press release will be issued when the highway is clear and open for traffic.

The Sheriff’s Office continues to recommend that motorists avoid travel if at all possible for their own safety and the safety of first responders who have to respond to accidents in these dangerous circumstances. Additionally, we urge all non-essential businesses to remain closed.

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UPDATED Wednesday, February 2, 2011 --- 8:25 a.m.

UPDATE from the Rock County Sheriff's Department:

As of 8:00AM this morning, Rock County has been under a blizzard watch for 17 hours. The amount of snowfall is tapering off, however, strong winds are continuing. As a result, roadways are continuing to be affected by drifting snow. Snow plows have been fully deployed for several hours and are assisting deputies’ efforts to provide relief for stranded motorists. In addition, the National Guard is continuing to assist as well.

Despite these efforts, approximately ten occupied, and thirty unoccupied run-offs are still awaiting first responders. North-South roads have not been as affected by drifting conditions but many East-West roads continue to be impassable. In fact, road conditions have been so hazardous that several four-wheel drive response vehicles and several full-size, military-style National Guard vehicles, as well as, two response snowmobiles got stuck during the night. All of these vehicles have returned to service except one; however, it should help citizens understand just how hazardous road conditions have been.

As a result of this information, the Sheriff’s Office continues to recommend that motorists avoid travel if at all possible for their own safety and the safety of first responders who have to respond to accidents in these dangerous circumstances.

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UPDATED Wednesday, February 2, 2011 --- 3:40 a.m.

UPDATE from the Rock County Sheriff's Department:

Currently, road conditions in Rock County are extremely hazardous. The interstate system remains the only open roadway in the county and traffic on that highway appears to be moving at approximately 10-15 miles per hour. Strong winds continue to prevail throughout the county producing nearly completely white-out conditions. Drifts have been reported to be between 4-7 feet high in many places.

At this time, the Sheriff’s Office has approximately 45 pending run-offs or minor accidents. Many motorists remain within these vehicles awaiting emergency responders. Roadways remain impassable to even four-wheel drive vehicles. The National Guard has been deployed in conjunction with the Sheriff’s Office to provide assistance to these stranded motorists. The Rock County Highway Shop has begun calling in plows to deploy them in response to these emergency conditions. Their ability to open roadways will be hampered by a large number of vehicles stuck in the roadways.

Due to the extreme danger that travel poses this morning for anyone on any Rock County roadway, the Sheriff’s Office would strongly recommend that businesses be closed today to avoid putting workers in danger on their commute to work.

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UPDATED Wednesday, February 2, 2011 --- 12:01 a.m.

From the Rock County Sheriff's Department:

After eight hours of blizzard conditions in Rock County, road conditions have deteriorated to the point that the only roadway open in Rock County is the Interstate system and that has numerous runoffs and minor accidents that the State Patrol is still attempting to respond to.

All other roads within Rock County, are impassable due to heavy drifting and almost zero visibility. Even Sheriff’s Office four-wheel drive response vehicles are being significantly hampered in their ability to respond to accidents and the two snowmobiles that are being operated are unable to keep up to the demand for services. At 10:15PM, a request has been made to the National Guard to provide Humvees to attempt to supplement the Sheriff’s Office response to reported accidents.

At this point, there are approximately 35 accidents and run-offs still pending and a majority of those vehicles are occupied. Snowplows have been pulled from the roads (with the exception of the Interstate and a small emergency contingency) and will not return until 4AM. Based on these conditions, Sheriff Spoden is ordering citizens to avoid all travel for their own safety. With current windchill temperatures at 1 degree, any unnecessary travel seriously endangers the safety of both citizens and responders.

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Posted Tuesday, February 1, 2011 --- 7:50 p.m.

Press Release from the Rock County Sheriff's Department:

The Rock County area is officially under a blizzard warning as of 3:00 PM this afternoon. Wind speed in increasing significantly at this time, reducing visibility and increasing the amount of drifting snow on roadways. Snow accumulation of 8 to 13 inches is expected through out the night. Winds will be 20 to 30 MPH, with gusts to 55 MPH. Citizens are being advised to avoid travel if at all possible. If someone must be traveling, they are advised to use extreme caution.

The Rock County Highway Shop will continue to plow roads until 8:00 PM this evening, at which time the plows will be pulled from the roads until 4:00 AM (except for a small emergency contingency and plows on the interstate system). Sheriff Spoden is increasing patrol staffing during this time and deploying two snowmobiles for responding to emergencies, however, operators should be cautioned that response times might be significantly delayed.


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