Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

January 5, 2014

Riding the storm out

By Kathy Linton

— Weather forecasters have predicted all week that central Indiana would be hit with severe weather and this time they got it right.

As of 4:30 a.m. Sunday there was no snow, by 6 a.m. it had began to fall and by 9 a.m. it had become dangerous. As of noon Sunday, the National Weather Service had recorded 5 inc. of snow in the Indianapolis area and slightly further West — in Jamestown — snow had already measured at 11 inches.

Indianapolis Power and Light and Duke Energy reported power outages as a result of a heavy, wet snow. Early Sunday afternoon, IPL had 10,700 outages in the Indianapolis area and Duke had about 1,000 outages in Hendricks and Marion counties.

Duke Energy spokesperson Angeline Protégé said that heavy snow is causing branches and trees to fall onto power lines. She added the shear weight of the snow has caused some lines to sag and snap.

The snow is falling at about one inch every hour.

Some areas of the state are under a “travel watch” and some are under a “travel warning.” A watch means driving conditions are extremely dangerous and should be avoided, if possible. A warning means travel is not allowed and motorists could be ticketed.

Hendricks and Marion counties are both under a travel watch at this time.

People throughout central and northern Indiana are asked to remain off the road to make way for emergency and snow removal vehicles. Authorities are reporting white out conditions.

Travel conditions are described by experts to be “life threatening.” That is not expected to change until at least Monday afternoon.

Governor Mike Pence has directed the Indiana National Guard to stage “highway assistance teams.”

24 teams, consisting of 96 guardsmen, have been deployed across the state to assist in life saving and rescue operations.

The teams are out rescuing stranded motorists, moving people to shelters and assisting EMS crews.

Indiana Department of Transportation officials say they’re doing all they can, but definitely can’t keep up with the snow. They are deploying a double-plow strategy with two vehicles running side by side in an effort to clear roads.

The City of Indianapolis, along with the state, has opened emergency shelters in park buildings, the fairgrounds and other areas.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard asked that all schools remain closed on Monday and asked businesses to do the same or at least hold off opening until noon. He said all city offices would be closed.

Brownsburg officials announced that all town offices will be closed Monday and other towns are expected to follow suit.

Throughout the duration of this storm, Ballard said IMPD officers would be responding to only emergency calls. He said they would not respond to accidents or slide offs unless there are fatalities or serious injuries.

While the snow is making travel nearly impossible and interfering with power, the real threat will come at nightfall when temperatures plummet to dangerously low levels.

Temperatures are expected to drop to below zero by Monday morning with wind chills 30 to 50 degrees below zero.

People are advised to keep children and pets indoors as frostbite can occur within minutes in such temperatures.

Weather experts say it should warm up slightly by Tuesday and quite a bit by Wednesday and Thursday, although more snow is predicated later in the week.