By the time you read this, forecasters say, the worst of the worst should be over.
Still, bitterly cold temperatures and dangerous wind chills will continue today and Wednesday, and winds blowing the snow already on the ground will cause drifting that could turn rural roads into a kind of winter obstacle course.
The National Weather Service allowed its Winter Weather Advisory to expire Monday afternoon because winds were gradually diminishing. But plenty of other warnings – some using the word “death” – continue:
•A wind chill warning is in effect until noon Wednesday. Overnight wind chills were expected to reach 35 below zero, but will show “slow improvement” today and Wednesday.
The National Weather Service warns that at those temperatures, frostbite of exposed skin can occur in a matter of minutes, and “hypothermia or even death is possible with prolonged exposure … for those not properly dressed for the cold.”
•If you go anywhere, the roads will continue to be a challenge. Forecasters say travel will be hazardous in some areas because of lake effect snow and blowing or drifting snow, with whiteout conditions possible at times.
“Use caution if you are traveling, especially in open areas,” the National Weather Service warns. “Some roads may be impassable due to drifting snow.”
According to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, Allen County had a Yellow Travel Advisory, warning drivers to use caution. Adams, and Huntington counties had an Orange Travel Watch, meaning conditions threaten the safety of the public. Only essential travel is recommended and emergency action plans should be implemented by businesses and government agencies.
Wells, Steuben, Noble, DeKalb, Kosciusko and Whitley counties were all under a Red Travel Warning, meaning travel may be restricted to emergencies only. People there are asked to refrain from all travel.
The Indiana Department of Transportation listed most highway conditions north and west of Allen County as “difficult.”
In Fort Wayne, warming shelters were opened at the Community Center downtown and the Salvation Army, 2901 N. Clinton Street. The Salvation Army will also serve as an overnight shelter, and officials urged those who need them to make use of them.
“We’re facing another serious weather situation in our community,” said Mayor Tom Henry. “We want residents to be as safe as possible. If needed, please utilize the resources we’re setting up. I also encourage residents to check on friends and neighbors.”
Fort Wayne residents who need help or information should call 3-1-1.
City and county governments across the region were either closed or limiting activities; things like garbage and recycling pick-up are unlikely to happen for a while. The city of Indianapolis announced Monday afternoon its offices would be closed Tuesday and open two hours late on Wednesday.
How bad will it be?
So bad that PJM Interconnection, which operates the electricity grid for 13 states, including Indiana, is asking customers to conserve electricity because demand is expected to reach record levels.
Indiana Michigan Power officials say they’re confident they have enough capacity to serve all of its customers, but are working with PJM to ensure reliability for other utilities in the region.
In the meantime, city officials are warning that you need to keep your water pipes warm: frozen pipes or water meters can require costly repairs, and Fort Wayne City Utilities officials note that customers are responsible for meter damage or replacements.
Animals need to be kept warm, too: Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control urges pet owners to limit time outside for dogs and to keep cats strictly inside the home.
Animals are susceptible to frostbite, which often accompanies hypothermia, which often involves the tail, ear tips, pads of the feet and scrotum.