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Putnam County in blizzard warning area as storm eyed

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Putnam County is under a blizzard warning until 7 p.m. today (Wednesday) as the biggest snowstorm in four years is anticipated to hit central Indiana.

The blizzard warning has been issued for the period from 1 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, the National Weather Service has announced.

Wednesday's storm could even produce more snow in one, single event than the Putnam County area received all of last winter (9.25 inches).

Six to nine inches of snow are expected across the area -- with some isolated spots possibly seeing up to a foot of snow by the time the storm subsides.

The heaviest snow amounts are expected to fall in a band 50 miles either side of a line from Vincennes to Shelbyville to Winchester. Snow, blowing snow and freezing rain are possible in some areas.

In addition to Putnam County, the counties under the blizzard warning include Clay, Parke, Owen, Montgomery, Hendricks, Morgan, Greene, Marion, Johnson, Hamilton, Shelby, Hancock, Madison, Boone, Clinton, Howard, Delaware, Bartholomew, Monroe, Rush, Tipton, Brown, Decatur, Fayette, Lawrence, Randolph, Wayne, Franklin, Henry, Jackson, Jennings and Union counties.

Winds gusting to up to 45 mph on Wednesday will produce areas of blowing and drifting snow.

A blizzard warning means severe winter weather conditions are expected or occurring. Falling and blowing snow with strong winds and poor visibilities are likely, which will lead to whiteout conditions, making travel extremely dangerous.

The last time a blizzard warning was issued for central Indiana was Valentine's Day 2007.

Snowfall of nine inches or more is relatively rare in the Indianapolis area. Since snowfall records began in 1884 there have been at least 20 such storms, with at least four in the month of December.

The last such occurrence was on Jan. 28, 2009 when more than a foot of snow fell.

The current weather forecast indicates that up to nine inches of snow is expected in the Indianapolis area by Wednesday night. The biggest snows of recent years have been:

-- 6.4 inches on Feb. 17, 2010.

-- 5.1 inches on Jan. 13, 2011.

-- 2.3 inches on Dec. 29, 2011 (last winter).

Meanwhile, Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) crews were busy Tuesday afternoon and evening, pre-treating bridges and roadways with salt brine, an anti-icing solution.

INDOT will continue to monitor multiple developing forecasts, as well as a statewide network of road and bridge pavement sensors, to deploy the needed personnel, equipment and materials ahead of any predicted accumulation. INDOT is responsible for plowing and treating more than 30,000 lane miles of interstates, U.S. highways and state routes.

Hoosiers can also call toll-free 1-800-261-ROAD (7623) for updated Indiana travel information, including road conditions, road closures, construction information, crashes and other traffic alerts.

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How many inches did it snow in the blizzard of 1978? I know the drifts stopped an Amtrak train just north of Bainbridge and the passengers on-board had to be rescued.

-- Posted by donantonioelsabio on Wed, Dec 26, 2012, at 2:54 PM
Response by Eric Bernsee:
The National Weather Service officially lists it as "only" 15.5 inches of snow, although almost everyone had places in the yard or against their house twice that deep.

Of course, the savage winds and bitter cold produced wind chills in the -50 degree or worse range, zero visibility and created huge snowdrifts that covered roadways and railroad tracks. The drifts alongside U.S. 231 north of 36 were legendary.

That was a blizzard! Wednesday's storm in our area really wasn't ...

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