State, county and local governments are preparing for the worst of a winter storm system as it moves through Indiana. The wide variety of weather conditions across the state complicates how governments respond.
National Weather Service forecasting models predict two rounds of heavy snow in northern Indiana, with some parts getting 15 or more inches of snow in the next 72 hours. Central Indiana is forecasted to get rain until it transitions to a wintry mix with a significant temperature drop. And portions of southern Indiana may be hit with an accumulation of sleet, snow and freezing rain on Thursday.
That means the state’s response has to be different for each part of Indiana. Joe McGuinness is the Indiana Department of Transportation’s commissioner. He said that complicates how the state responds to the storm.
“Snow we can move. Ice we cannot. We will do as much as we possibly can with that ice, with the salt,” he said. “But the pre-treating – as I mentioned earlier – becomes extremely difficult when it’s raining. Because as soon as we drop the brine down on the road, the rain washes it away.”
McGuinness said it’s really common in winter storms to move INDOT teams to different regions.
“In this situation, we won’t be doing that,” McGuinness said. “Those folks will be staying at their home base, operating with the trucks that they’ve always operated with on the daily basis. And continue to fight until – as I mentioned earlier – until all the state network is clear and safe.”
State leaders preached caution for travel, paying attention to local media for weather conditions, and checking on neighbors if your area loses power.
The weather system is dumping rain, snow and ice from Texas through Maine. State agencies, including the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, are in communication with federal agencies like FEMA to help respond to potential emergencies.
But Gov. Eric Holcomb said the state is ready.
“We are not just prepared for the next coming days and the weather ahead, but we are over prepared,” Holcomb said.
Officials preached typical winter weather preparedness – don’t bring generators indoors; take breaks while shoveling; if your vehicle gets stuck, don’t leave until someone comes to help; and provide room to INDOT, county and local plow trucks while they try to clear roads.