Frigid temperatures. Powerhouse wind gusts. Relentless snowfall.
Any of the three scenarios can turn winter into a test of endurance. As Sunday stormed into Monday, the Terre Haute area received a triple whammy.
The combination is “definitely a rarity,” said Mike Koch, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Indianapolis.
Monday’s low temperature in Terre Haute hit 12 degrees below zero at 9 a.m., breaking the record for Jan. 6. The previous mark, 7 below, was set in 1924, said Lindsey Monroe, meteorologist at WTHI-TV.
That would’ve been tough enough for residents to deal with, but the winter storm also delivered an official count of 10 inches of snow and wind chills of 33 degrees below zero. Hundreds of churches had to cancel Sunday services. Schools closed today and many, including the Vigo County School Corp., already have called off classes for Tuesday. Businesses and public services shut down. Pipes froze in homes. Power outages occurred. Snow drifted as high as 4 feet, according to the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department.
The central Indiana snowfall, recorded by the National Weather Service in Indianapolis, amounted to the second-heaviest of any day in state history. The Indy calculation of 11.4 inches was topped only by 12.1 inches of snow that fell in March 19, 1906. In terms of snowfall in a 24-hour period, only 12.5 inches that accumulated on Feb. 24-25 in 1965, and 12.2 on March 19, 1906, exceeded this Sunday’s total of 11.4.
The storm rekindled memories of the blizzard of 1978, but didn’t match its combined force. That year, 15.6 inches of snow fell, swirled and drifted between Jan. 25 and Jan. 28 in central Indiana, Koch said. (The multi-day record actually occurred Feb. 16-17 in 1910, when 16.1 inches fell.) The lowest recorded local temperature happened on Jan. 19, 1994, when the mercury sank to 31 degrees below zero, according to Tribune-Star archives, with wind chills nearing 60 below.
Relief is in sight. Tuesday’s high temperature should hit 10 degrees and the fierce winds are expected to subside, Monroe predicted. By Thursday, temperatures should top the freezing mark at 33 degrees, she said.