TERRE HAUTE —
As snow fell and bitter winds blew, Concepcion Chavez, his family and friends did the only thing that really made sense under such severe weather conditions.
They built an igloo — and two giant snowmen as well. Mid-afternoon Wednesday, Chavez demonstrated how he used a cat litter container to “manufacture” his snow blocks.
His “crew” then put the snow blocks into a wheelbarrow and took them to the “construction” site on South Ninth Street.
Chavez realized he couldn’t fight Mother Nature, so he decided to have fun, instead.
“I saw my neighbors out here shoveling and throwing snowballs, so I came out and joined them,” he said. Others followed.
“I’m enjoying it,” Chavez said.
In fact, he couldn’t get enough snow — for his igloo — and went down the street to get more.
In Terre Haute, Wednesday’s snowstorm wasn’t as severe as initially anticipated, with an estimated 3.5 to 5 inches falling in the city. Some forecasts had suggested as much as 14 inches. But gusting winds of up to 32 miles per hour did produce whiteouts and poor driving conditions.
The peak of the storm was between 7 a.m. and noon, said Mike Pigott, a meteorologist with AccuWeather in State College, Pa. In Terre Haute, the storm did not meet the definition of a blizzard, he said.
The heavier snows were more to the south, including Greene County, which reported up to 12 inches of snow. That prompted Greene County officials to close all county roads except to emergency service and private health care workers.
Meanwhile, in Terre Haute, city and county government offices and several businesses closed Wednesday, including Honey Creek Mall — except for Sears — and even the two AMC movie theaters were closed.
The Sears district manager made the call to keep the store open at the mall, said Angel Cottrell, the store’s operations manager. “We’re here for the customers,” she said. People came in to buy generators, snow blowers, shovels and other weather-related items.
Sears home improvement department will open at 7 a.m. today and the rest of the store will open at 10 a.m., Cottrell said.
Some of the store’s employees who live in such areas as Robinson, Ill., Sullivan and Paris, Ill., were not able to make it in because of the weather, she said.
Nearby, at Mark’s Mattress Outlet, store manager Robin Young decided to remain open, even though most other businesses close by had closed.
“I’ve had several phone calls,” Young said in the early afternoon. “That’s why I think I’ll kind of hang out and see what happens.”
She lives in town and didn’t have too much trouble making it to work. “The roads were better than expected,” Young said. “I’ve seen it worse.” She was surprised to see a lot of traffic on the roads.
Buffalo Wild Wings also opened for business, with a more limited menu Wednesday. The sports bar and restaurant wanted to remain open for its fans, said Nick Leciejewski, general manager.
On Terre Haute’s north side, USA Nails on Fort Harrison Road opened for business as usual at 10 a.m. Wednesday but closed soon afterward, said Dave Ngo, manager. “Nobody was coming in,” he said, as he cleared snow outside. The business will re-open today.
On Brown Avenue, Chloe Robinson, 5, and her cousin, Ariel Jacobs, 19, built a snowman.
Robinson wore a pink bunny hat, while Jacobs wore clear, plastic gloves that kept out the snow and protected her pink and green fingernails.
Robinson said her mom was out shopping. The 5-year-old also observed, “The roads are horrible.”
While the two were hard at work on their snowman, Jacobs admitted, “I hate the cold.”
For today, the forecast is looking better, said Mike Koch, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Indianapolis. It should be partly sunny with a high around 32, and winds will die down. The next chance of snow will be Friday, but he anticipates “it won’t be more than a dusting.”
Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.