Prepare to shovel snow today and shiver for the next several days as what officials have called the worst weather in 20 years blows into northeast Indiana.
A winter storm warning is in effect for the entire state until early Monday.
Snow was expected to start early today and get heavier as the day progresses with a total accumulation of between 10 and 14 inches by evening, according to the National Weather Service.
Temperatures are expected to be in the mid-20s today but are expected to fall tonight, dipping to between minus 5 and minus 11 by Monday morning and remaining cold. At that time, winds are expected to pick up, which would create blowing and drifting.
Monday night and Tuesday morning, temperatures are expected to drop to 15 to 20 below zero. Winds are expected to create wind chill temperatures of 30 to 45 below zero. Temperatures like that haven't been recorded here since the mid-1990s.
Temperatures are not expected to get above zero between tonight and Wednesday during the day, when temperatures will climb to about 20 degrees, the National Weather Service said. For comparison, the weather service said, in about the past 100 years, there have been only 10 days when the high did not rise above zero in Fort Wayne. Two such days lie ahead.
Some cities and towns in the area issued their own weather advisories, warning that travel will be hazardous and that exposure to temperatures as low as predicted can cause frostbite in a matter of minutes. Kendallville advised that parking is forbidden on snow routes.
Shoppers packed local groceries to stock up on food. Some appeared to be buying items such as soda and fruit and not the traditional carts full of bread and milk.
At the Kroger store on West State Boulevard, Manager Joyce Glisson said it had been busy all day, but she attributed part of that to the fact that it was early in the month when people get food stamps, pension checks and so on and stock up on staples.
She said supplies of milk and bread were holding up well but that the meat department had been hit hard, as well as produce. "It's kind of like Christmas," she said.
The state's Joint Information Center advised people to make sure that cellphones, tablets and mobile devices are fully charged and to turn off smartphone apps when not using them to preserve battery power. The state also advised that if travel is necessary to use a car charger for items drivers might need.
Indiana Michigan Power also advised people to have flashlights, extra batteries, extra blankets and a battery-powered radio or TV and advised that people dependent on electricity for medical reasons make arrangements for alternate lodging should power go out for an extended period.
The company said it will have crews on hand to respond to outages, and customers should call 1-800-311-4634 to report an outage.
Meanwhile, the governor announced the Department of Transportation is preparing for around-the-clock operations and arctic temperatures. It was also readying its fleet of trucks to supply parts to plows that break or rescue stranded drivers. He urged people to do their part by staying off the road during the storm and the wind and drifting that follow.
He also asked that people keep police phone lines open for emergencies and consult INDOT.carsprogram.org for road condition reports or www.in.gov/dhs/traveladvisory for up-to-date advisories by county.
The Indiana Toll Road issued a winter weather ban on triple-, double-long, high-profile oversized permit loads and low-profile steel haulers until noon Monday. The ban will be re-evaluated before Monday and could be extended.
In preparation for the blast of subzero weather, car parts stores advised motorists to make sure their gas tanks are full, add gas treatment, check anti-freeze and park their cars with the engine out of the wind.
"A word to the wise, stay in," said an employee of Hires Automotive Center, and if you do go out, make sure you have a telephone and some emergency contact numbers.
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