Story Summary

Coldest temperatures in two years to arrive in Central Indiana

geist snow 2A Wind Chill Advisory has been issued Monday in preparation of the coldest temperatures in Central Indiana in two years.

According to an advisory issued by the National Weather Service in Indianapolis, wind chills of 10 to 20 below zero are expected Monday night through midday Tuesday.

The advisory went into effect at 8 p.m. Monday night and runs through 11 a.m. Tuesday.

The cold temperatures mixed with the strong winds could result in frost bite and lead to hypothermia if precautions are not taken.

If you must venture outdoors, make sure you wear a coat, hat and gloves.

Several school have already reported delays in preparation of the weather forecast.  View a complete list of closures and delays, here.

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Local News

Cold air grips central Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS — People in central Indiana are facing some of the coldest temperatures the city has seen some time. The temperature in Indianapolis at 6 a.m. Thursday morning was 3 degrees.

Health experts reminded Hoosiers to keep an eye out for the warning signs of hypothermia and frostbite.

The CDC lists symptoms of hypothermia in adults as shivering, exhaustion, confusion, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness. In infants, red skin that is cold to the touch and lack of energy can be signs of hypothermia. If someone’s body temperature drops to 95 degrees, they need immediate medical attention.

Frostbite is also a concern for anyone spending time outside during the cold snap. The National Weather Service issued a wind chill warning for Northern Indiana Thursday morning with the warning that exposed skin can get frostbite in just a matter of minutes.

The wind chill in Indianapolis Thursday morning was between -5 and -10 degrees. Several area schools delayed the start of the day to give buses a chance to warm up and to prevent students from waiting at bus stops during the coldest part of the morning.

According to doctors from St. Vincent Health, some people are more at risk for frostbite including people who smoke, drink alcohol, or have diabetes.

Many people in Indianapolis braved the temperatures Thursday morning.

“It’s freezing! I’m on my way to work now but I really didn’t want to get out of bed this morning,” said Brian Johnson.

“Well it’s nice and warm in the car, I’ve got heated seats, so I’m just filling up the tank, gotta make sure you have plenty of gas,” said Karen Simon, who was stopping at the gas station on her way home from work.

Nearly a dozen cars were stolen after people left their keys in the ignition. Many of them told detectives they wanted to warm their cars up before heading out.

Jessica Downey left her key in the ignition Monday afternoon. She was walking toward her home, when her car was stolen.

“I was just going in to switch my baby’s coat and she’s (got) a runny nose. So, I can’t switch her from cold to not cold to cold to not,” Downey said.

Downey’s car was parked outside her home on North Gladstone Avenue.

“I heard my door slam and I turned around and it was like a ghost. It was gone,” Downey said.

Someone took her 2001 black Toyota Camry. Her car is dented on the back, right side.

“It’s killing me because I’m very independent and that guy took that from me,” Downey said.

Downey is not the only person whose car was stolen. In the last three days, IMPD took nearly a dozen reports of stolen cars with a key left in the ignition. Downey did not think it could happen to her.

“As I was opening the door and putting the key in the ignition, I was thinking and looking around. God, you know, nah it’s not going to happen. Nobody’s around,” Downey said.

IMPD detectives want people to remember to take precautions.

“This is more a crime of opportunity and that’s why we do see a little bit of an increase this time of year over the winter months,” Officer Michael Hewitt said.

Hewitt said people should take valuable items out of their car, consider investing in a remote starter, have an extra set of keys in order to lock your car and also to partially close your garage door if your car is inside.

Hewitt said there are people who look for unattended cars in neighborhoods. He said it is getting harder for thieves to steal cars.

“They are looking for any edge they can have over you,” Hewitt said.

Hewitt said people need to keep their eyes peeled. He said a crime like this one happens fast.

“Somebody  in the right place at the right time for them are right place, wrong time for you, if it’s your car that’s being stolen. So, is there a 100 percent full proof method for this? Of course not, but you can take some precautions,” Hewitt said.

The cases under investigation are scattered throughout Indianapolis.

Downey said she will take precautions and wants other people to do the same thing.

“It can happen. It will happen. You just gotta take precautions,” Downey said.

Hewitt said more than 50 percent of cars stolen nationwide are because the key was left in the ignition.

As Hoosiers adjust to the cold temperatures and watch over their family and friends, the Indianapolis Zoo has had to make adjustments to accommodate its animals for the weather.

Brown bear Kiak-snow-Jackie Curts

Some of the animals actually prefer the cold weather. Brown bears, polar bear, walrus, Amur tigers and red pandas are a few examples of animals in the zoo that don’t mind the cold. In fact, their overnight buildings aren’t heated. Penguins prefer the cold as well. Although they are in an indoor exhibit, their environment is below freezing year-round.

Animals are allowed to be out in the elements depending on that specific animal’s tolerance and based on the decisions of the trained zoo staff. Thermostats, alarm systems and human care are monitoring all zoo animals year-round. These systems also have backup systems, just in case.

When it gets as cold as it is now, you are unlikely to see animals in the African exhibit named “Plains.” Those animals will be cozy in beds of hay. Approximately 50 degrees is the temperature required for them to be out. Mud, snow and ice are also factors staff must consider.

Red panda3-Fred Cate

Something you probably didn’t know about the zoo is that the floor of the elephant building is heated. This helps keep the elephants’ feet warm and offers a warm place for them to lie down if they choose. Plus, hot air rises so the heated floor helps keep the whole building heated. Overall, though, elephants are more cold tolerant than you might think.

Another animal you may not think of as cold weather tolerant are flamingos. The zoo has two species, Chilean and Caribbean, and it’s not uncommon for them to be out even when the temperatures get down into the 40s. When they are not in the exhibit, flamingos and our other bird species spend the day out of the cold and inside climate-controlled buildings.

Downtown Indianapolis just looks cold, from the steam on street to all of the people bundled up to their eyeballs trying to get around.  Now imagine having to work outside in these temperatures.

Eric Schwartz works at the corner of frigid and bone-chilling as the bellman at the Conrad Hotel.

“Very cold, 2-degrees,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz not only has to work the front door in the cold he has to do it with a smile on his face and doesn’t even wear gloves.  But, he says he has a secret warming system.

“Our secret here is to take rotations and drink a lot of coffee,” Schwartz said.  “We have four of us on right now so we’re in the hotel, three of us. One of us is outside the hotel at all times.”

So for now Eric drew the short straw and has outside duty.

“Except when it’s busy and we all have to be out here,” Schwartz said.

Lloyd Jessee has to be out in the cold to wait for his bus.

“Mostly I just keep moving back and forth,” said Jessee.  “It keeps it from getting too bad.”

Jessee says he’s heading back home to Greenwood now and he says it cold but it’s not as bad as it was at seven this morning when he was waiting for his bus into the city.

“I’m only just now starting to get numb in the legs and this morning I was outside for about three minutes and I just lost all feeling,” said Jessee.  “It was crazy.”

As for Eric, well he’s still out in the cold, working the door at the Conrad with a smile.  He says basically you have to be mentally tough to get through days like this or think about beaches and palm trees.

“Ha, that’s funny,” Schwartz said.  “We were all just sitting in there, talking about if there were any hotels in the Houston or Florida area we could transferred down to.”

Indianapolis Public Schools students headed to school on their regular schedule despite freezing temperatures Tuesday.

IPS spokesman John Althardt told Fox59 the school district decided to proceed on time because many of the students participated in the school breakfast programs.

Althardt said IPS busses began warming up as early as 5:30 a.m. Tuesday.

“They said technically that it was supposed to be a little bit warmer two hours later but the problem with starting later is that lots of the parents of kids at the schools work and they have to still be at work.  So then the question becomes, ‘who will stay with my child, get them ready, and lock up after I leave?” said IPS parent Jennifer Eastwick. “So it really is better for everybody that we stick to our schedule as much as possible.”

More than 100 area schools issued two-hour delays after the forecast called for the coldest temperatures in Central Indiana in two years.

A wind chill advisory was issued Monday evening and is expected to run through 11 a.m. Tuesday.   Wind chills reached 12 below zero Tuesday morning.

As temperatures dip below zero, pet owners are being asked to bring their dogs and cats indoors.

Several residents in one south side neighborhood complained to Fox59 about seeing two boxers left outdoors for weeks in the 5300 block of Yucatan Drive.

While they didn’t want to reveal their identities, they told Fox59, the owners moved away some time ago and come back periodically to feed the dogs. Even with a dog house and each other to keep warm, neighbors are worried the dogs won’t make it through the sub zero temperatures.

“They’re cold when they go outside, just like with you,” explained veterinarian Dr. Greg Borlik with Cottage Animal Clinic in Carmel.

He said dogs and cats are extremely vulnerable in this weather, especially animals with short hair, like the boxers.

“If they’re out in the elements, they can get forstbit and they also can freeze to death,” said Borlik.

Fox 59 contacted Marion County Animal Care and Control to alert them about the boxers. Concerned neighbors said they would call ACC as well.

Many schools throughout Central Indiana have already decided to delay the start of classes on Tuesday because of frigid temperatures and wind that could produce wind chills of -20 degrees or lower.

Superintendents from Marion County held a special conference call on Monday night, with some districts, such as Washington Township, opting to move back the start of classes. Others, such as IPS, were still waiting to make a call.

Regardless of when classes do begin, the wind chill will still be dangerously low by the time school buses arrive. That’s why some parents are taking matters into their own hands.

Kimberly Lewis made sure she was there to pick her daughter up from swimming at Warren Central High School Monday night, and with temperatures dropping, she’s made special plans for the morning too.

“She has to walk down to the corner, and it’s just too cold so I’ll drive her,” Kimberly Lewis said.

Glenn Lewis said he’ll make sure his own daughter is bundled up a little more than normal, but when it comes to the bus he says his family has some help.

“Some of the neighbors are super friendly and they pile into a house on either side (of the bus stop),” Glenn Lewis said.

“If there’s any way you can limit their exposure outside, that would be preferred,” said Dr. John Finnell, an emergency physician at Wishard Hospital.

Whether buses are on time or two hours late, emergency doctors say parents or neighbors helping at bus stops is a great idea, not just for the warmth.

“If the kids are playing and they get injured and are unable to get back up or get help, so if they’re out alone, those are the ones that we would worry about,” Dr. Finnell said.

If parents can’t accompany their children, Dr. Finnell suggests taking a cue from a certain fictional Indiana family.

“Sort of like from the movie the Christmas Story,” Dr. Finnell said, referring to the movie in which a mother famously bundles up her young son to the point that he can hardly move his arms. “That’s not silly when you get to these sort of extremes, where everything is sort of protected and covered.”

“Definitely gloves, hat, scarf, whatever you can, get them on,” Glenn Lewis said.

Dr. Finnell says parents and other adults who have a cold weather plan, should also make sure they have backup plans, which can simply include bringing a cell phone in case a car breaks down.

Frostbite can begin to set in in 30 minutes or less when the wind chill drops below -20 degrees.

Experts are warning homeowners to take necessary precautions because the below freezing temperatures will be hard on furnaces and copper pipes. Area repair companies are expecting to be inundated with calls.

“I know how to push buttons,” said Carmel homeowner Judy Shaffer who joked about her furnace maintenance and repair knowledge.

Shaffer and her husband invited a technician into their home Monday to inspect and clearn their furnace.

‘”What could have been simple maintenance can turn into a costly repair or even having to replace your whole system,” said Matt Rodman, a technician with Williams Comfort Air.

Rodman had that warning for other homeowners who are expecting their furnaces to perform on very cold nights even though they have not been maintained. The result can be a furnace that will only blow cold air.

“If you have a burner blocked or plugged up with dirt, it’ll stop it from igniting,” said Rodman.

It is a harsh reality that could make a family very uncomfortable.

“If they were exposed on the outside, then you wouldn’t want your garage opened too long,” said a plumber with AttaBoy Plumbing.

The below freezing temperatures are also a threat to copper pipes, especially those that are up against an exterior wall.

“You can open a cabinet underneath a lavatory or the kitchen sink and that allows the household heat to get into that wall,” said Richard Behney, owner of AttaBoy Plumbing.

The goal is to prevent an ice cube from growing inside a pipe.

“Just let it trickle. You don’t need a fast stream,” said Behney who also recommended that homeowners turn their faucets on a little bit overnight if they are seriously concerned about a burst.

“We try to maintain any piece of equipment we have,” said Shaffer.

Rodman said homeowners need to remember to change their air filters. It is a quick task that can have a positive impact. Every home with a furnace should also be equipped with a carbon monoxide detector.

Central Indiana parents are keeping a close watch on the forecast as they wait to hear from their school districts on what the plans are for school Tuesday.

“At this point, as cold as it is, knowing it’s gonna be colder Tuesday, I wish they would at least delay it,” said parent Kalie Byrd.

School Superintendents in Marion County held a telephone conference Monday to discuss their options.

“A lot of times with these major decisions the superintendents will talk amongst themselves, so they make the best decisions possible for everyone,” said John Althardt, spokesperson with Indianapolis Public Schools.

Althardt said schools have a wide range of issues to consider before closing or delaying school, but safety of students is the number one priority.

“It’s waiting at the bus stop, it’s how long it takes our walkers to get from their home to school and what kind of exposure to extreme weather is there and then how do we balance that with the running of school, making sure we have school days,” Althardt said.

Until parents get word from their child’s school, they should prepare them for the elements.

“We just gotta do what we can as parents and just bundle our kids up make sure they’re not outside for very long, maybe wait at the bus stop in the cars, do what we can to keep them from being outside for too long,” said Byrd.

Covering exposed skin, dressing warm and limiting the amount of time children are in the cold are the best ways to keep them safe.

School districts in Marion County will let parents know the plan by 6 a.m. Tuesday.

View a complete list of delays and closures.

Your car doesn’t like the cold weather either and mechanics say if you don’t get it ready for sub-zero temperatures it can cost you.

“A little spent ahead of time will save you a lot in the long run,” said Chris Gastineau who owns Greene’s Automotive in Zionsville.

He says cars need be winterized to protect them from zero and sub-zero temperatures or you will start seeing big systems shut down.

“Heater problems, battery problems, starting and charging problems,” said Gastineau.  “This puts a very big strain on those parts of the car and if there’s going to be a failure this is when it will occur.”

He says batteries especially take a beating in these conditions.

“It’s very hard to start a car no matter what,” Gastineau said.  “As it gets colder it becomes a lot harder.  A battery that is three to five years old would be very suspect, needing to be changed.  It should be checked.”

He says you also need to check your anti-freeze.  If the mixture is not right it might not be able to handle sub-zero temperatures.

“You could have catastrophic damage done to the radiator, the engine block itself or the heater,” Gastineau said. “Because it expands when it freezes and it will break things.”

As it gets colder you’ll also see your tires start to lose air pressure and that can cause problems with braking performance.

“It makes the car respond funny and of course the anti-lock braking,”  Gastineau said.  “If you try to stop on ice and snow it could cause a problem if the tire pressure is not correct.”

He says wiper blades need to be checked along with the wiper fluid.

“You should always make sure that it says winter blend,” said Gastineau.   He said the summer blend will freeze in the plastic canister and it will freeze the fluid lines.

Plus, if your car stays out overnight in these conditions AAA Hoosier Motor Club suggest you shoot a little WD-40 into the locks so they don’t freeze over.  They also say it’s a good idea to have your gas tank half full so your gas lines don’t freeze.

Gastineau says it’s all about being prepared for the worst so you don’t end up stranded on the side of the road.

“The best offense is a  good defense,” Gastineau said.  “Have somebody check it.”