Here's why this winter storm is especially tricky

Posted at 2:54 PM, Jan 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-12 08:16:11-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- The most significant storm of the winter is here, and there are a few elements of the storm that make it especially tricky to deal with.

It's not so much the snowfall totals, or even the total ice accumulation that makes this a challenging storm to navigate, it's the timing of the temperature changeover.

Between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m., temperatures dropped below freezing from northwest to southeast across central Indiana as rain fell.

The fast-falling temps caused an incredibly quick freeze of the rain on surfaces, causing icy conditions at a moment's notice. The morning commute throughout the region saw this in many spots. Drivers need to allow more time to get where they're going and go slow. 

The other element that makes it hard to manage is that the Department of Public Works wasn't able to lay down salt until after the rain transitioned to sleet/snow, otherwise it would just get washed away. 

This will make traction even more difficult. 

As snow falls and accumulates, it will hide any areas that do freeze over, making it more difficult to spot slick spots. 

Indy Snow Force said they had more than 100 plows out in full force beginning at 11 p.m. Thursday night, which helped ensure they can dump salt on the roads as soon as weather permits, but they just won't be able to be everywhere. You can check the status of all streets plowed in the city of Indianapolis using the Indy Snow Force Viewer.

Bottom line (and it's worth repeating): Go slow, allow more time and be cautious on the roadways Friday morning. 

The timeline of the storm continues to evolve. Click here to get the latest forecast update of the storm.

"The Department of Public Works and our other public safety agencies are standing by, prepared to respond to any conditions this storm may bring. And if residents are prepared, plan ahead, and reach out to care for our neighbors - together, we can ensure all in Indianapolis stay safe," said Mayor Hogsett.

The mayor went on to encourage people who have the ability to work from home to stay home. 

He says if you have to travel, especially in the morning hours, check road conditions and allow extra time to get to your destination.

Here are some other precautions being offered by the mayor's office to keep you and your family safe during the upcoming severe weather:

  • Make a family communications plan. It's important to know how you will reach each other in case of an emergency.
  • Make an emergency kit. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommends planning for at least three days of self-sufficiency.
  • Bring pets indoors
  • Plan to check on elderly neighbors and relatives, and those living with disabilities
  • Prepare your home: Weather-proof doors and windows, check air filters in heating systems, ensure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly. Learn how to shut off water valves in case of burst pipes
  • Prepare your vehicle: Ensure tires are inflated properly, windshield wipes work effectively, and keep your gas tank at least half full. 

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