Checking the Ice

Robert Moyer, supervisor of grounds and maintenance for Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation, checks the thinkness and density of the ice on Lakeside Pond. Despite several days of below freezing temperatures, Moyer and the Parks and Rec staff have not opened the city ponds to public use because of gray, snow ice that formed when snow on the ice melted then refroze. Snow ice, Moyer says, is weaker than black, clear ice, and the ponds do not yet have a suitable, safe thickness of the weaker snow ice to open them for use. Journal Gazette video by Chad Ryan.

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Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Robert Moyer, grounds and maintenance supervisor for Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation, drives a spud, or a large, metal rod, into the ice on Lakeside Pond on Friday to check for weak spots before drilling holes in the ice to check for its thickness. The city ponds have not been open for ice skating this winter because the gray ice that covers it, made from layers of snow that melt and refreeze, is weaker than black, clear ice. Moyer said there is 7 to 9 inches of ice on the ponds, but there should be at least 10 inches before he can get equipment on to clear the snow and recommend to administrators that the ice is safe to open to the public.
A city as frozen as ice

Bitter cold places January on par with 3 decades ago

– Cold enough for ya?

It’s been cold enough for the record books: David Call, a severe weather expert at Ball State University, says January 2014 has – so far – been the coldest January since the 1980s.

“It is likely that January 2014 will be among the 10 percent of coldest Januaries for Indianapolis, meaning that 90 percent of the time the temperature is warmer,” Call said. “None of those coldest Januaries have occurred in the last 25 years, so this month is considerably colder than what we have experienced in recent memory.”

When it comes to weather, human memory is notoriously short. Remember when we tied the highest temperature ever recorded in Fort Wayne – 106 degrees – just 18 months ago? Yeah, us either.

But if you’re hard-pressed to remember a time when it was this cold, well, that’s because you’d have to think back more than three decades.

“Many of the coldest Januaries on record occurred in the 1970s and 1980s, including 1977, 1978 and 1979,” Call said. “Anyone over 35 has experienced weather like this before – just not recently.”

But don’t worry – in the unlikely event you’ve already forgotten the incredibly cold temperatures recorded just three weeks ago, there’s more to come.

In addition to the snow expected this weekend (That’s right! More snow! Yeah … us either.), the temp will be plunging faster than the stock market did on Friday: Overnight Monday into Tuesday morning, the temperature is expected to drop to 15 degrees below zero. The high temperature Tuesday is forecast to be just 5 degrees below.

That’s right, the high will be minus 5.

Call said the recent weather pattern has consistently featured a ridge of warm air in the western United States and a trough of cold air in the eastern part of the country. The jet stream has been pushed far north into western Canada before plunging far into the southeast.

“While we have been cold and snowy, the western U.S., especially California, has been hot and dry,” Call said. “California gets most of its snow and rain in winter, so there could be serious water restrictions and a horrific fire season later this year if the weather pattern does not change soon.”

So at least we’ve got that going for us.

In the meantime, the people in charge of clearing the roads say to stay off them if you can.

Indiana Department of Transportation officials said Friday afternoon they were already battling drifting caused by 40 mph winds blowing previous snowfalls.

This weekend, INDOT is expecting an additional 2 to 6 inches of snow to fall across the region, and though crews will remain in full call-out mode 24 hours a day – in 12-hour alternating shifts, until roads are clear – they expect roads to be atrocious.

“Motorists should be aware that, due to the extreme weather conditions, many roadways will still be slick and snow-covered at times,” INDOT officials warned. “If possible, staying off the roads entirely is the safest option.”

INDOT’s trucks have already logged nearly 4.3 million miles and spread 265,000 tons of granular salt on the roads as last Saturday. Those numbers will certainly increase this weekend.

In case you’re wondering – and we’re only including this as a public service – Allegiant can fly you from Fort Wayne to Tampa for as little as $141, one-way.

No … us either.

dstockman@jg.net

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