News From Terre Haute, Indiana

March 25, 2013

March snow maddens

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — A spring snow storm was dumping heavy, wet snow on the Wabash Valley on Sunday evening as area emergency responders prepared for the worst in the next few hours.

The Vigo County Emergency Management Agency, the Vigo County Sheriff’s Department and the Wabash Valley Red Cross were making early preparations Sunday in anticipation of the storm, which has been blanketing the west and Midwest the past three days.

A winter storm warning, issued by the National Weather Service, was expected to remain in effect until noon today. Between six and 10 inches were expected in the Wabash Valley, according to the NWS in Indianapolis.

Several motor vehicle accidents were reported to Vigo County Central Dispatch almost as soon as the snow started to fall about 4:30 p.m. Sunday. The calls for assistance were nearly constant after that in various parts of the county until the snow slowed down about 6:30 p.m.

Despite all the activity, Vigo County Central Dispatch reported no serious injuries from the crashes as of about 7:30 p.m. although a few of the accidents involved overturned vehicles. A vehicle struck a power pole on Old Paris Road Sunday evening, snapping the pole and closing the road while Duke Energy crews repaired the damage. No serious injuries were reported in that incident.

Vigo County Sheriff Greg Ewing, reached Sunday evening, said heavy, wet snow coupled with strong winds were a concern. Such conditions can cause tree limbs to fall, causing power outages and other problems, he said.

Conference calls between local emergency responders and the Vigo County School Corp. were expected at 10 p.m. Sunday and then again early this morning, Ewing said.

“Public safety as a whole is preparing for the storm,” Ewing said during a lull in the snow fall. “We’re just taking that extra step to be prepared.”

The possibility of downed limbs and trees had Duke Energy on standby Sunday as the storm continued across Illinois toward central Indiana, said Rick Burger, district manager for Duke.

Even the first snow fall, which started late Sunday afternoon, was putting a lot of weight on trees and branches, Burger said. If much more was added, that could become a problem for power customers, he said.

“Duke will be monitoring throughout the evening,” Burger said. “We’ve got men and women ready.”

In Illinois, the state police issued an advisory Sunday urging motorists to stay home and travel only  in an emergency. Highways and county roads were all “extremely dangerous” because of the heavy snow fall, whiteout conditions, drifting snow and wet and icy roads, the advisory stated.

The storm started to the west where it dumped between 10 and 15 inches of snow in Colorado and Kansas. Heavy snow reached St. Louis early Sunday where up to 10 inches was expected. The storm is expected to grow weaker as it continues east, but several inches of snow were still forecast in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@