Story Summary

Millions in path of late-February winter storm



winter snow

A large, late-February storm is bearing down on the Midwest.

An area the size of Mexico is under some type of winter warning or watch as the storm system is expected to deliver ice and snow across the country’s mid-section.

Snow and rain aren’t the only concern for the millions in the path of this storm. Flood watches are in place along the Gulf Coast.

Story Timeline
Previous Next
This story has 10 updates

Many Hoosiers woke up Friday morning to a sheet of ice covering almost everything.

“I wish I would have worn ice skates—it was really slippery out,” said LaToya Martin.

“The ice broke my windshield, broke my windshield wipers. It’s bad snow…couldn’t see before that. Lots of ice, lots of rain and once the snow covers the ice, it was worse,” said one driver.

Sidewalks and neighborhood streets that weren’t pretreated were the most affected, but drivers said the main roads and highways were manageable enough.

“The streets look like they’ve just been rained on. No ice, no nothing. The highways are perfect,” said Lynell Horne, an Indianapolis resident.

City and state road crews got the jump on the storm Thursday by pretreating and salting before the storm hit Central Indiana.

“They did a pretty good job salting the streets and stuff early before the snow or rain mixture hit,” said Horne.

Those efforts along with above-freezing temperatures helped melt the ice on many neighborhood streets and sidewalks. Many still need attention.

That’s why LaToya Martin was out salting sidewalks in her neighborhood near 30th and College.

“That’s a concern that I have because there’s a lot of old people in this community and a lot of them do have disabilities,” she said.

The latest winter storm is already creating a mess out on the roads. Police have been responding to dozens of crashes all night across the area. You should expect conditions to get worse in the morning — especially with the freezing rain making things extra tricky.

After 10 hours on the road, Jason King decided to park his truck for the night. First it was the snow. Then, it was the ice.

“It’s just bad. I couldn’t see where you were going, and lots of people were crashing,” said King, who drove from Brownsville, Texas. “I broke my windshield wiper. I had about an inch [of ice] on the hood of the truck. It was overheating my truck. I had to pull over and pound it all off of there.”

“It’s a mess. I wasn’t expecting sleet and it’s really really slick,” said Ariel Sergent, who was driving to work.

The RN is expecting a busy night at the hospital.

“I’ve already seen one truck on the side of the road turn sideways,” she said.

This wintery mix is expected to last until the Friday morning commute. It’s prompted Indy Snow Force to bring in another 90 drivers to work through the night. The Indiana Department of Transportation is also out in full force with its salt trucks. Road crews spent much of Thursday pre-treating with tens of thousands of gallons of salt water.

“With the influx of traffic in the morning commute and the timing that we’re looking at with the freezing rain, it could be a dangerous situation in the morning,” said Nathan Riggs, Spokesman for INDOT.

Police are urging drivers to brake early and often.

“If it stays like this, I guess I’ll probably drive for a little while. If not I’ll stop and see how everything goes,” said Lee Charles, a truck driver from Chicago.

Sleet and freezing rain will continue moving northeast through the overnight hours.

The conditions lulled a bit around 10 p.m. Thursday but Chief Meteorologist Brian Wilkes said another wave should hit Central Indiana after 12 a.m. A sharp cutoff will happen after 3 a.m. Friday.

Temperatures are expected to remain below freezing through 5 a.m. Friday.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory.

Sleet and freezing rain began moving into Central Indiana during the evening commute Thursday.

Fox59 Chief Meteorologist Brian Wilkes said the sleet will being to mix with heavy, wet snow through the evening hours.

Roads are expected to remain slick through the overnight hours. Temperatures are expected to remain below freezing through 5 a.m. Friday.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory.

Indianapolis Snow Force and state road crews are concerned about the timing of this storm and how it may affect the morning commute. That’s why they were busy early Thursday.

Ninety Indy Snow Force drivers showed up at 11 a.m. Thursday morning.They were going over their equipment, doing maintenance and making sure they are ready to go when the storm hits.

Ninety fresh drivers will relieve them at at 11 p.m. Those drivers will work through the Friday morning commute concentrating their efforts on bridges, overpasses, main roads and secondary streets.

INDOT is also getting ready. State trucks were out pre-treating using tens of thousands of gallons of salt-water.

The state said the timing of this storm and what’s expected could make for a dangerous situation out on the roads.

“With the influx of traffic in the morning commute and the timing that we’re looking at with the freezing rain and things like that in the morning, it could be a dangerous situation in the morning. We’ll have plenty of drivers out to keep roadways as safe as possible, but whenever you have freezing rain, it’s probably one of the worst conditions to be out driving,” said Nathan Riggs with INDOT.

Both city and state crews will concentrate their efforts in the areas that need it most when the storm begins.

INDIANAPOLIS – Crews from Indy Snow Force are ready to hit the roads in preparation for a blast of winter weather.

They reported to work at 11 a.m. Thursday to monitor the weather and pre-treat area roads. Drivers will work 12-hour shifts. Another set of 90 drivers will report to work at 11 p.m. to continue the work.

Crews expect to salt 6,000 lane miles of main roads and bridges. They’ll use a substance called ClearLane, a salt treated with magnesium chloride that creates a barrier between the pavement and precipitation.

A Winter Weather Advisory goes into effect at 7 p.m. for all of Central Indiana. Forecasters expect a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain across the state.

Other drivers should watch for road crews, slow down and allow for extra time to reach their destination. Crews also ask that other drivers give trucks enough room to treat streets and bridges.

You can find out more about Indy Snow Force at its website.

Also visit our weather page for LIVE Guardian Radar, tower cams, weather blogs, and more.

Brian Wilkes Web Forecast Thursday

INDIANAPOLIS — The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory  for all of Central Indiana.

Precipitation started  across southwestern part of Central Indiana Thursday night. It is expected to spread northeast throughout the night.

It’s expected to start as mostly snow before mixing or changing to sleet, freezing rain and finally rain Friday morning.

One to two inches of snow is expected near and northwest of Crawfordsville Thursday evening.

All of Central Indiana should expect 1/10 of an inch or more of ice accumulation by Friday morning.

The Winter Weather Advisory remains in effect until 10 a.m. Friday.  The advisory means periods of snow, sleet or freezing rain will cause travel difficulties. Motorists should be prepared for snow covered roads and limited visibilities.

(CNN) — A snow storm is rolling into the Plains states Thursday, triggering winter storm warnings and watches in an area covering 800,000 square miles in 18 states.

About 30 million people live in its path.

Dodge City, Kansas, “is in the middle of a bull’s eye,” said CNN Meteorologist Chad Myers. The state should see 16-18 inches of snow west of Wichita and up into Nebraska.

Kansas State University canceled Thursday classes, as have dozens of grade schools in the Plains states. Kansas City International Airport advised passengers to check their flight status before heading to the airport.

CNN affiliate KSNW in Wichita reported that crews had treated roads Monday, but no matter how much salt and sand they spread, by Wednesday morning primary roads were snow-packed and slick. Side streets were worse.

On Wednesday the system left a rare thin layer of snow across the deserts of Arizona, New Mexico and Southern California — as far south as the border with Mexico.

A large system

The storm system is huge and also has a warmer, wetter Southern component.

It will eventually stretch from the Dakotas to Houston, Texas, Myers said. While it will remain snowy in the north, it will spawn torrential rains and tornadoes along the Gulf Coast.

It will also dump freezing rain over Arkansas and Missouri, Myers said.

“There’s going to be a monster ice storm over Springfield (and) Branson, Missouri. Think of an inch of ice coating everything,” he said. “Power lines will be coming down. Trees will be coming down.”

In St. Louis, freezing rain is predicted to fall on top of a thin layer of snow, having “a significant impact on travel,” the National Weather Service warned.

North of where the most snow will fall, Chicago could receive as much as 4 inches, Myers said.

Southern downpours

Severe thunderstorms moving in from the Gulf of Mexico are expected to dump from 2 to 6 inches of rain over New Orleans and Montgomery, Alabama, according to CNN’s weather center, before rolling up toward Atlanta.

The torrential rains could lead to significant river flooding, as flood watches are still in effect from last week’s heavy rains.

Heavy winds, hail and tornadoes are possible, the National Weather Service says. Downpours are expected to continue into Friday.

CNN Meteorologists Chad Myers and Pedram Javaheri contributed to this report.

It won’t be a blizzard, but the timing of this storm will likely impact your Friday. Road crews are already formulating their plan on how to deal with this latest storm.

INDOT spent part of Wednesday pre-treating the roads. INDOT Spokesman Nathan Riggs said they are prepared to give their plow truck drivers some overtime. Indy Snow Force said they will be releasing a plan Thursday morning.

If you’re a born and bred Hoosier, folks like Lauren Weatherall are used to dealing with all types of weather in one week.

“I just got used to turning down my heat in my house and now I got to turn it back up,” she said. “That’s never fun.”

Mark it on your calendars — as of Wednesday, there are 27 days until spring!