Drifting snow, wind gusts pound Ind.

December 13, 2010 (PORTAGE, Ind.)

With more than a foot of snow making traveling treacherous, authorities urged people to stay off the roads. Some drivers were stranded overnight before being rescued Monday.

The state of emergency affects Porter and LaPorte counties.

Strong winds created snow drifts that covered the roads after they were plowed. The extreme cold and snow was a dangerous mix.

The combination of wind, snow and icy roads proved too much for motorist George Rasmussen as he found himself in a ditch before he could react.

"The wind catches the trailer or I hit some black ice or something because all of a sudden the whole thing just swerved out of the way," Rasmussen told ABC 7.

Rasmussen was relatively fortunate. He only had to wait an hour before help arrived in the form of a tow truck. Throughout Porter and LaPorte counties, some drivers were stranded for as long as 12 hours with emergency crews unable to reach them.

"We were stuck probably for about 13 hours overnight. So we were probably lucky to have enough gas to make it through the night," said Sean Cunningham, another stranded driver.

It was all hands on deck for the Indiana Department of Transportation. They had 150 plow trucks out trying to clear the roads with drivers working 12-hour shifts. It was also busy for tow truck drivers.

"It's pretty bad. A lot of slideoffs, and I towed one to Detroit last night and up in Michigan it's the same thing," said tow truck driver Mike Myers.

Even in this area where lake-effect snow routinely dumps several inches in the blink of an eye, this storm is exceptional.

"When I came up 31 last night, it was clean all the way for about 30 miles and then went from one inch to two feet," said Henry Mitchell, truck driver.

"The drifts are about as tall as we are. People were stuck," said Tom Cassidy, truck driver.

Police urged people to avoid driving unless absolutely necessary.

Since the snow began, we have covered over 100 accidents in our area. And we have had somewhere around 80 or so vehicles that have slidden off the roadway or into the ditch or just stuck in the snow bank," said Sgt. Alan Jamerson, Indiana State Police.

Some longtime residents of the area used to dealing with heavy snow say this snow is the worst they have on the for clean the 10 years or so.

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