Winter blast: Storm could dump snow, sleet and ice on region

Monday, February 12, 2007
Crews from the Greencastle Street Department, including (front to back) Mark Dickerson, Harold Barger and Brad Phillips (operating backhoe) make preparations Monday morning for a major winter storm. The county is under a winter storm warning until Tuesday night.

Take 6-10 inches of heavy, wet snow, throw in some ice and top if off with 25-mph winds and Putnam County could be in for a real mess.

According to the latest forecast from the National Weather Service in Indianapolis, the winter storm could kick into gear at around 10 p.m. and will continue through the night and into the day on Tuesday.

Areas near and south of Interstate 70 could see a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain, the weather bureau said, with ice accumulation of around one-quarter to one-half inch.

There is a 90-percent chance of snow tonight with total accumulation by early Tuesday morning of 2-3 inches. On Tuesday, the snow, and some sleet, will continue with accumulation of an additional 3-6 inches.

Snow is expected to continue Tuesday night with an additional 1 inch possible, for a total of up to 10 inches.

As if the snow isn't bad enough, snow plow crews are preparing for the possibility of strong winds that could lead to blizzard-like conditions for a time.

The weather bureau says winds tonight will be out of the east from 10-20 mph.

On Tuesday, winds out of the northeast will be 10-20 mph, but with added wind gusts of 35 mph.

Topping it off, temperatures are expected to fall to around 11 by Tuesday night with winds continuing to gust to near 35 mph.

"It's gonna be a real mess," Greencastle Street Commissioner Paul Wilson said Monday morning.

His crews, and crews from the state and county, were busy Monday morning loading up chemicals and inspecting snow plows, getting ready for whatever Mother Nature puts down.

"It's gonna be a challenge for our department," Wilson said.

Putnam County Highway Superintendent Dave Sutherlin said he hopes there will be enough time Monday evening, between preparing for the storm and fighting the actual storm, for his workers to rest before hitting the roads.

He said his crews will be out in the morning and will begin by targeting the main roads.

Meanwhile, state highway crews have begun 12-hour shifts and will start plowing as soon as the snow starts accumulating, Cloverdale INDOT Superintendent Fred West said Monday.

West said he's concerned that with temperatures during the first part of the storm hovering around the freezing mark, it could make for a major accumulation of slush on area highways. With that, he said he anticipates getting complaints from homeowners whose mailboxes get broken off by heavy, wet snow.

West also said he's concerned about major drifting if the winds kick in as they are predicted.

"If that happens, I expect a problem with drifting," he said.

Typically, the state highway puts down chemicals prior to the storm in an attempt to melt the snow as it hits the roadway, but West said there is enough residue left from the last several weeks that he doesn't anticipate applying more before Tuesday's storm.

The city street department is hoping to avoid problems by asking local residents to do their best to remove parked cars from the streets as soon as possible.

On Monday afternoon, city crews will hit the streets with an application of snow melt and make sure the streets are as clear as possible before the storm puts down even more snow.

"With this much snow coming, I don't think they want to have their cars buried in snow," Wilson said.

Once the snow starts, Wilson and his crew will focus on the primary roads, and try to keep them open during the storm. They will then shift to the secondary and residential streets.

As always, residents can check on road conditions by listening to local radio stations or calling the Indiana State Police weather hotline at 1-800-261-7623.

School and business closings and delays are broadcast on most local television stations and radio stations.

Up-to-date forecasts from the National Weather Service are available on the agency's website, www

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