ANDERSON, Ind. — The area will experience a slight warm-up over the next couple of days, but could be slammed by a winter storm this weekend, according to weather reports.
AccuWeather is predicting that a “monster storm” will hit central Indiana on Saturday, capable of producing between 6 and 12 inches of snow.
“People within the snow area should expect blizzard conditions several hours after the snow begins as winds are expected to increase. There is the potential for whiteouts and road closures, which could strand motorists and people waiting for flights at airports,” the AccuWeather report warns.
According to AccuWeather forecasters, “The heaviest snow is most likely to begin over northeastern Missouri and stretch across central Illinois, central Indiana, northern Ohio, northwestern Pennsylvania, western New York, southern and southwestern Ontario and southwestern and central Quebec.”
Officials at the National Weather Service aren’t so sure.
Meteorologist Jason Puma said forecasters are getting mixed messages from data models.
“One model is forecasting three inches and another is forecasting 12,” he said.
Puma confirmed that a storm is expected to hit, but no one quite knows what it will bring. “It’s a strong area of low pressure that’s expected to move through the Ohio valley.”
Scott Harless of the Madison County Highway Department isn’t taking any chances. Harless said the highway department started up all department vehicles Wednesday to ensure the fleet is ready for the storm.
“We just went through them and got them all up and running,” he said.
The defense against the winter storm, expected to hit Saturday, will begin early, he said.
Hearing that 40-mph winds are possible during the storm, Harless is most worried about wind, not snow. Even if snow accumulations don’t match forecasts, the area could be in for a challenge, he said. “Three inches of snow and 40-mph winds is going to be a mess,” he said.
Drifting, he said, will block many county roadways, making roadways difficult to navigate, even in just three inches of snow. The impact of the wind is especially troublesome for the county roads, he explained. “In the city, you don’t really see it. Out in the country, there’s nothing to block it.”
If 12 inches of snow falls, he said, the county will be at a standstill. “If we get what they’re calling for Saturday and Sunday, you’re never going to see the roads," he said. "If we get that much snow with that much wind, we’ll have roads that are going to be closed.”
Nothing is certain about this storm, and forecasters are still trying to estimate the exact impact of the coming snow, Puma said. “We’re three or four days out so there’s going to be a lot of variation on timing. We need to watch the weather forecast closely.”
Harless has some additional advice for area residents. “Stock food and travel as little as possible.”
Contact Brandi Watters 640-4847, firstname.lastname@example.org