City warns Indianapolis residents about winter storm

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With eight to ten inches of snow expected over the weekend, the City of Indianapolis is gearing up for another winter showdown.

The city and state took some criticism for street conditions after about five inches of snow fell Thursday. The Department of Public Works said that was all about timing, with a lot of snow falling during crucial rush hour times.

"You think that we can transcend the laws of physics. When it snows during rush hour, little can be done than keep fighting the fight and that's what happened," said Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard.

Related: Major storm potential Sunday

With the storm expected to begin sometime Saturday night and into Sunday, DPW is urging drivers to stay off the streets so its snowplow trucks can focus on getting the roads clear. Drivers are also advised not to park on the streets because they'll get plowed in.

"I want to be very clear about this. If you are driving in the middle of the storm, you put yourself in danger and, quite frankly, you put our first responders in danger as a result, if they have to come rescue you," said Public Safety Director Troy Riggs.

The city says all residents should be concerned about the dangerous weather forecast for the weekend. Ballard did not mince words Friday afternoon.

"I cannot stress enough, this is a potentially dangerous and deadly weather situation. I urge all of our residents to take this storm very seriously. It is not just a snow event," the mayor said.

Temperatures from -10 to -15, with wind chill factors making it feel even colder, are expected after the heavy snow moves in. City officials say they're ready to tackle the storm, but the cold temperatures will create a challenge for plow crews.

"This severe cold does make snow compact more tightly. It makes it more difficult to remove in some areas," said Lori Miser, Department of Public Works.

Ninety plow drivers are already working non-stop. They will be on through Monday, along with 11 packer trucks and 300 private contractors now on standby for clearing side streets.

The City of Indianapolis says it will open 17 area park community centers and shelters Monday morning if people lose heat at home. Homeless shelters in the city say they are making room for more people during the cold weather.

Also, IPL and Citizens Energy Group are suspending disconnections for non-payment of utility bills during the storm.