INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indiana residents endured a second day in the deep
freeze Tuesday, facing temperatures that dipped to minus 10 degrees or
colder over the state’s northern half even as travel conditions were
improving and much warmer air was on the horizon.
While the bitter cold continued to make travel difficult, particularly in
rural areas, many people driven from their homes by power outages caused by
Sunday’s snowstorm were returning to residences that had electricity, and
heat, once again.
Among them was 41-year-old Timolyn Johnson-Fitzgerald, who had spent Sunday
night in an American Red Cross shelter in Indianapolis with her three
children, ages 11, 15, and 18, after the storm cut power to the apartment
complex where they live.
They were ready for another difficult night trying to sleep at the shelter
but instead were able to return home shortly after midnight Tuesday when
power was restored to their apartment.
Johnson-Fitzgerald said her apartment’s water lines were working despite the
extreme cold, but much of the food she’d bought in preparation for the storm
was ruined from a combination of thawing and then freezing during the
“All my eggs were cracked, the cheese and milk was frozen. And the ice cream
had melted and then refroze. It’s crazy, but we’re just glad to be back
home,” she said Tuesday afternoon.
Many counties in Indiana’s northern two-thirds remained under travel
warnings Tuesday afternoon, limiting travel to emergency purposes only,
although several had lowered their travel alert levels. Many schools were
closed for a second straight day due to wind chills that reached about 35
below zero. That included the state’s two largest districts - Indianapolis
Public Schools and Fort Wayne Community Schools - which were among the
districts that will remain closed Wednesday for a third straight day.
But moderating temperatures and improving travel conditions allowed state
workers to return to work Tuesday following Monday’s state office closures,
and Indiana lawmakers to begin the General Assembly’s 2014 session Tuesday
afternoon after a one-day delay.
Gov. Mike Pence on Monday had urged Hoosiers to stay off the roads, warning
that they faced “real peril” if they became stranded following Sunday’s
snowstorm that buried northern and central Indiana under a foot or more of
snow. Authorities said snow and bitter cold were possible factors in the
deaths of at least six central Indiana residents, including two elderly
women who fell outside Monday while tending to their dogs.
Temperatures reached 14 degrees below zero Tuesday in Indianapolis, while
Fort Wayne fell to minus 15, tying the record for the date originally set in
1970. South Bend fell to 13 below, and Evansville reached 4 below zero.
But unlike Monday’s subzero highs, Tuesday’s highs rose to about zero in far
northern Indiana to the upper teens in the state’s southwestern corner. And
even warmer air is forecast for Wednesday, when temperatures were expected
to rebound into the 20s statewide.
National Weather Service meteorologist John Nield said temperatures will
warm into the upper 30s to the lower 40s from Friday to Monday, bringing
weekend rain that is raising concerns about possible flooding. However,
heavy rains like those that sparked December flooding over central and
southern Indiana after another heavy snowfall are not in the state’s
forecast, at least for the next several days, he said.
“The moisture that’s stored in the snowpack is certainly fairly ample, so
the risk of flooding is something we’re monitoring,” Nield said. “But
there’s nothing that’s an imminent threat.”
He said the best scenario would be for temperatures to rise well above
freezing for several rain-free days so the snow melts slowly without
inundating rivers and streams.
Indiana’s major electric utilities reported progress repairing power lines
damaged by Sunday’s heavy snowfall and snapped tree limbs. At least 10,000
homes and businesses remained in the dark Tuesday afternoon, down from about
40,000 power outages a day earlier.
Indianapolis was hardest-hit by the outages, with about 9,800 outages
remaining Tuesday afternoon.
More than 200 people spent Monday night at the American Red Cross’ 16
shelters around Indiana, with about 100 of those at the Red Cross’
Indianapolis shelter, officials said.