Snow prompts travel alert in Gallatin County


Snow prompts travel alert in Gallatin County

BOZEMAN, Mont - If you don't need to travel, please don't. That's what safety officials in Bozeman are asking of drivers.
Road crews worked around the clock on Saturday to make the roadways passable.

Bozeman emergency crews are no strangers to snow, but when the weather is this bad, it's not a matter of keeping the roads clear, but keeping them open.

"I don't know that it's been this bad that the wind and snow and the cold have all hit this hard at the same time," explained Sgt. Brad Hickok with the Gallatin County Sheriff's Office.

The snow storm brought with it winds of up to 27 mph and a wind chill of about minus 25 degrees.

"Really high winds are blowing and drifting snow," Sgt. Hickok said, "and that's making roads poor at best, and sometimes impassible in the county,"

Near white-out conditions are reported in some areas, adding to the hazard of heavy snow accumulation on roadways.

The Gallatin County Roads Department told NBC Montana that every single employee was out working to clear the streets on Saturday.

But they couldn't keep up with the plowing, and on some streets like Fowler Ln, they could not get their plows through. One crew member explained the worst roads were like parking lots, strewn with abandoned cars.

"Folks are getting stuck in the middle of the road way which makes it impossible for the snow plows to deal with the roads," Hickok said. "If you don't need to travel, please don't."

Sgt. Hickok warned that if you must travel, be prepared for the possibility of getting stranded.

"Conditions if anything have gotten worse as we get further into the day," he said.

If you must brave the roadways, you're advised to bring a cell phone. Let someone know where you're going and what time you expect to be there.
It's also a good idea to bring winter clothing in case you get stranded, and if you do get stuck, call a tow truck or police.

The following is a news release from the Gallatin Media Center:

This morning (Saturday) at 6:00 a.m. the Gallatin County Road Department and the Sheriff's Office report the following conditions.

Most all north south running roads in the valley are drifted with drifting up to 4 feet in many places.

Some of the roads that are drifted include Cottonwood, Gooch Hill, Love Lane and Jackson Cr.

The County Road Department has every plow and vehicle out which totals 12 plow trucks and 6 larger vehicles. Multiple vehicles are being found stuck or abandoned in the roadways. Abandoned or stuck vehicles are preventing the plows from opening up the roadways.

Local tow companies are coordinating with the County Road Department and Sheriff's Office to remove cars and open roads. At this time the County is requesting that the public limit traffic to essential travel only.

This will allow workers to attempt to clear the roadways without being delayed by stuck cars. Local officials report that it has been about 18 years since we have experienced conditions like this.

Conditions going forward into the day will depend on the wind according to the Road Department.

So far there has been no reports of injuries or emergencies related to the storm but the Sheriff's Office has plans in place in case of emergency calls. State highways are maintained by the State Department of Transportation and are not included in this report.

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