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Blizzard conditions expected to hit in early morning hours

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

This could be a big one.

The season's first major snow storm is expected to be of blizzard proportions and blanket the area with 11 to 13 inches of snow amidst strong winds that could produce super-sized drifts, according to Dan Reynolds, meteorologist for WTWO-TV in Terre Haute.

By the time newspapers are distributed on Wednesday morning ---- on the day after Christmas ---- the blizzard's winds are expected to be howling with gusts of more than 40 miles per hour.

The worst snowfall is expected to last until about mid-day, Reynolds told the Greene County Daily World as he was busy looking over the storm models and tracking information at the WTWO studios near Farmersburg in Sullivan County Tuesday afternoon.

Reynolds admits that winter storms are hard to pin-point a track, but this one, he says looks like it will be barreling through the Greene and Sullivan County regions.

"Last night (Monday) when I left (the studio) it looked like it was going to slide off southeast. That is the way it was trending. Overnight, it turned and came back. That's the problem with winter storms, the track is so critical to where the snow falls and what kind of snow that we'll be getting," Reynolds said.

The weatherman said the track of this storm is favorable to produce a major snow storm.

"We've got plenty of cold coming around that low pressure center. The temperature profile is perfect for snow," he said.

Reynolds says he expects snow to be very heavy in the morning hours and then tamper off by mid-day.

"It's going to work it's way pretty much southeast and northwest. The blizzard warning is effect until about 7 p.m. Wednesday," he said. "I think the snow will start up in your area (Greene County) probably about 3 a.m. and the heaviest of the snow will start about 7 until about mid-day. It will start to ease up as we head into the afternoon."

Reynolds says the temperatures will be in the mid-30 Wednesday, but it will seem much colder with gusting winds.

"It's going to be a north wind, so east-west routes will be affected," he noted. "In the evening we could have some brief white-out periods with the snow and those winds. Travel is definitely not advised tomorrow (Wednesday)".

Indiana State Police Public Information Officer Dave Bursten agrees that travel is to be avoided unless the trip is absolutely necessary.

In a prepared news release, Bursten suggests:

* Do not call city, county or state police to check on road conditions -- police agencies across the state want to keep phone lines open for emergency phone calls

* For up-to-date weather information the best source is your favorite TV or radio station or check the National Weather Service at http://www.crh.noaa.gov/ind/

* Visit www.TrafficWise.IN.gov or dial toll-free 1-800-261-ROAD (7623) for updated Indiana travel information, including road conditions, road closures, construction information, crashes and other traffic alerts

* If involved in a crash and no one is injured and the involved vehicles are still drivable, move to a safe area to exchange names, vehicle and license plate information, along with driver license number and insurance agent name and phone number with the other driver

* During severe weather conditions law enforcement will be busy responding to emergency calls and will not be able to take reports of crashes where there is only damage to property

* Vehicles left abandoned along interstate and state road right-of-ways are subject to immediate removal during inclement weather events

Bursten also stated, "If you must drive during any period of the storm a fully charged and functioning cell phone is your best friend."

The Blizzard Warning runs roughly along and southeast of a Frankfort to Clinton line, according to the National Weather Service.

Look for a mixture of snow...sleet and freezing rain to develop over southern sections by late evening and spread north by Wednesday morning. Areas along and south of a Linton to Greensburg line may see a mixture of freezing rain and sleet and snow.

Officials with the National Weather Service in Indianapolis say snowfall of nine inches or more are relatively rare in the Indianapolis area.

Since snowfall records began in 1884, there have been at least 20 such storms, with at least 4 in the month of December.

The last such occurrence was on January 28, 2009 when over a foot of snow fell. Note while over 9 inches of snow fell in October 1989, snow depth on the ground never exceeded 2 inches.

The central Indiana area has not seen relatively heavy snow since 2009. The biggest snows of recent years are: 6.4 inches on Feb. 17, 2010; 5.1 inches on Jan. 13, 2011; and 2.3 inches on Dec. 29, 2011 (last winter).

From 1884-2012, 16.1 inches on Feb. 18, 1910 ranks as the top snowfall for the Indianapolis area, followed by 15.5 inches on Jan. 27, 1978; and 13, according to NWS records.

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