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Friday, May 6, 2016

2007: A year for weather extremes

Friday, January 4, 2008

Floodwaters closed the bridge on CR 1275 South in January of 2007.
Putnam County's weather in 2007 can best be described as wet on both ends and dry in the middle.

January got off to a wet and hazardous start with major lowland flooding in the southern part of the county. During the first weekend of 2007, two separate water rescues took place in the vicinity of Cataract Lake, but no one was seriously injured.

Cloverdale Township Firefighters responded to a car in the water on CR 1275 South, just north of Ind. 42. There they found 19-year-old Wesley Evans, Cloverdale, trapped inside a 2002 Ford Mustang. The vehicle was upside down and lying in the water.

Firefighters used a rescue boat to reach Evans and pulled him to safety.

"He was really cold from being in the frigid waters, but he wasn't hurt," Cloverdale Township Fire Chief Kerry Shepherd said at the time.

A second water rescue occurred in the same area that same weekend.

Firefighters reported that Mark McKinney was driving with his son on CR 1125 South, near Meridian Line Road, when he drove his truck into a flooded area.

McKinney and his son were safely rescued when firefighters used an amphibious vehicle to reach them.

At the time, Putnam County's official observer for the National Weather Service, Peggy Torr said he recorded a total of 5.72 inches of rain in December of 2006 and 1.47 inches during the first week of January, which combined for a real mess.

January's watery weeks gave way to winter's chill as February saw high temperatures top out near zero. The Humane Society of Putnam County urged pet owners to bring their animals inside when the mercury hung in the single digits for several days in early February.

The same week, heavy snow that fell during the morning work and school rush caused major tie-ups on area roads, the most serious of which occurred on U.S. 231 South at Plessinger's Hill.

This favored winter trouble spot saw 17-year-old Cloverdale student Brittany Gray lose control on snowy roads and strike two other vehicles. When medics and police officers arrived, Gray was face-down in the ditch, but was not seriously injured.

Other trouble spots that day were Waterworks Hill and Interstate 70 where a jackknifed semi-tractor trailer precipitated a 20-car pile-up just across the Hendricks County line.

A snowblower makes its way along the sidewalk in downtown Greencastle following a Valentine's Day snowstorm in 2007.
About 6 inches of snow were recorded in the county that day and the Putnam County dispatch center received more than 40 calls for weather-related accidents during the storm.

February's weather only worsened with nearly a foot of snow falling on the county just in time for Valentine's Day. Schools closed and accidents were seen across the county.

But the next week, Jack Frost took a holiday and spring-like rains doused the area yet again, causing a repeat of the January flooding in the southern portion of the county.

Then came spring, and Putnam County saw the return of an annual threat -- tornadoes. While the county was spared from any major damage in 2007, there was definitely cause for fear, with a couple of funnel clouds seen and the usual slew of tornado watches and warnings.

April 11 saw Putnam County with two separate tornado warnings in the same day.

The first came shortly before 5 p.m. after Doppler radar indicated a possible tornado in nearby Clay County. The same storm made its way across Putnam County and into Hendricks County where a tornado touched down near New Winchester and moved northeast, destroying a barn and damaging homes north of Danville.

The same day, Putnam County was under the gun from a second tornado reported southwest of Greencastle at around 6:30 p.m. No damage was reported.

But spring's wicked weather gave way to summer's scorching heat that caused widespread drought conditions.

A meager 2 inches of rainfall was recorded in May and June, which led to some unsightly corn and soybean fields. Putnam County saw the driest conditions since 1988. In Indianapolis, less than 6 inches of rain fell from April through July, making for the fifth lowest total ever recorded for that time period.

But the dry conditions were rivaled by scorching temperatures. Putnam County saw the mercury climb into the 90s for almost two weeks straight in August. September saw more days in the 90s and October made the record books with two days of 90 degrees.

While October began looking much like the previous four months of hot, dry weather, it ended on a refreshing note. Rain and even some hail visited the area on Oct. 17, signaling the return of much-needed rain to the area.

The months of November and December saw a return to more normal amounts of rainfall. In fact, December ended with above average rainfall, causing waterways such as Big Walnut Creek to run full once again.

Since the end of April, Big Walnut was but a trickle where it meets U.S. 231 on the north edge of Greencastle, but it was flowing strongly the week preceding Christmas. December also saw a fair amount of snow, with several inches falling on the county mid-month.

The first few days of 2008 are shaping up to be cold, but weather forecasters are predicting a major warm-up this weekend. Temperatures could top 50 degrees by the weekend and rain showers are predicted to fall.

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