Icy storm leads to crashes, school closures in central Indiana

A snow plow at the intersection of 106th and Cumberland Road early Friday morning.
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A sheet of ice left behind by a winter storm is slowly melting as temperatures warm up Friday, although some side streets are still slick.

As of 11:00 am, it was 33 degrees with dense fog. A Winter Weather Advisory expired at 10:00 am for central Indiana.

According to the National Weather Service, the Indianapolis International Airport had a half-inch of snow/sleet, along with .42 inch of precipitation. No measurement is done on glaze thickness.

It will warm up to the upper 30s Friday afternoon, then fall back into the low 20s. Highs will be in the upper 30s tomorrow and into the 40s Sunday with dry weather.

Our next precipitation moves in Monday in the form of rain that could mix with snow Monday night. Tuesday through Thursday (possibly even Friday of next week) - we have chances of snow and flurries.

Many areas picked up .20" of inch of ice overnight, but a break in the precipitation gave trucks a chance to catch up on plowing and treating roads before another round of icy rain moved in around 3:00 a.m.

More than 280 closings or delays were called in by 5:30 a.m. Friday, including Indianapolis Public Schools, which will start two hours late Friday. All metropolitan township schools in Marion County, as well as Beech Grove schools decided to close for the day.

Butler University called for a two-hour delay at 5:45 a.m.

Main thoroughfares were mostly clear in Indianapolis by 8:00 am, but side streets remained icy and hazardous.

State Troopers from the Pendleton Post reported a busy night, working crashes and slide-offs. Troopers said I-69 was slick in spots, especially on bridges, overpasses and ramps. Interstate 70 is wet with icy spots from the light freezing mist. Temperature are hovering at the freezing mark in Henry County. 

Most county roads were ice-covered and slick Friday morning. INDOT trucks are continuing to salt state highways, which are mostly wet, but with slick spots.

Many early morning flights through Indianapolis International Airport were canceled by the storm that dumped heavy snow totals on the western plains, and moved northeastward overnight.  Flights departing Indianapolis are backed up as planes require de-icing before takeoff.

Check with your airline to see if your flight is affected, or use this app.

A single-car accident did knock down a power pole in Arcadia, leaving approximately 230 Duke customers in the dark shortly before 4:00 a.m.  Hamilton County dispatch said the driver was not seriously injured.

More than 230 Duke customers in northern Rush County were without power at 4:00 a.m.

Drivers on the south side along Bluff Road found that out soon enough after ice and snow started sticking to the ground in the early evening. That's where a car slid off the road and hit a tree. 

Another accident quickly followed.

"We saw a car that had hit a tree and so I put on my blinkers and was going to pull off the side of the road to make sure nobody was injured. Then the gentleman in front of me, due to the ice, hit me from behind," explained driver Melissa Freeman as she returned with her daughter from volleyball practice.

"It's just really slippery out here and it's really hard trying to maneuver and drive and stay focused and stay safe out here," said Garnell Garrett, a driver who said he had been the one who hit Freeman from behind.

"If you don't have to be out here, I would just recommend you don't come out here," warned Garrett.

But by 1:00 a.m., Bluff was mostly slushy and passable.

Others passing the two accidents, police cars and tow trucks took it slow, hoping to avoid more problems.

On the interstates, it was just as slowing going for drivers who also tried to avoid slide-offs.

That wasn't the case for everyone though.

Drivers of two separate vehicles found themselves just feet apart on the side of Interstate 70 east near mile marker 80.

On Interstate 465 east, a driver and his passenger waited for help from police after they were rear ended by another vehicle because of icy conditions.

Dozens of crashes or slide-offs were reported around central Indiana highways and streets.

Earlier Thursday afternoon, ninety trucks from the city's Department of Public Works pre-treated roads.

"We salt the main thoroughfare and the secondary streets and we also pay close attention to the bridges and over passes since those tend to freeze first," explained DPW spokesperson Lesley Malone.

Ninety more DPW trucks were expected in overnight to deal with more of the same conditions.

Malone said they only focus on primary and secondary roads and cautioned drivers to use care in neighborhoods where the roads have not been treated.

Call 800-261-ROAD (7623) for specific road conditions.

See traffic updates from INDOT.

As of 9:00 pm, Terre Haute was reporting 1.2 inches of snow/sleet. Indianapolis reported .18" of sleet by 9:30 pm. Lafayette reported 1.1 inches of snow/sleet accumulation.

See Indianapolis-area traffic incidents here.

IPL was not reporting any outages as of 10:00 pm. Duke was reporting 143 outages at that time.

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Indianapolis residents prepare for storm

Along the downtown canal, were jogging, walking and enjoying a cold but beautiful day. Just when it appeared winter was all but over, it's quickly become winter all over again for Indianapolis.

"l am so ready for this winter to be over," said Amanda Campbell with a twinge of frustration in her voice.

She and others are preparing for ice on top of snow. We found Sherri Beck in a Kroger parking lot, loading her car's trunk full of groceries.

"I always try to keep my trunk full because you never know what may happen day to day," she said.

Preparing for the worst, Indianapolis DPW loaded nearly a hundred trucks with salt. They are ready to roll through city streets all night.

Power companies say they have additional repair crews and call center workers on stand by.

Indianapolis Public Schools may call drivers in early to de-ice hundreds of school buses.

People needing shovels, snow blowers, scrapers and salt are finding plenty of everything. Two bags of ice melt landed in Campbell's SUV.

"I was afraid of not being able to get up or down my driveway without getting stuck in the yard," said Campbell.

When ice snow and sleet buried the city two years ago, extreme home owners fought back with flame throwers, chainsaws and other extraordinary efforts that left sidewalks and driveways permanently damaged.

Campbell wasn't taking any chances.

"I talked to the guy inside," she said. "He gave me the low down!"

That would be Tony Hedlund. "Salt is fine if you use it moderately, according to the label," he said. But the owner of Hedlund Hardware says few customers bother reading the label's instructions and warnings.

All ice melt products are not created equal. Most shouldn't be used on new concrete. Many mix salt with less harmful ice melting chemicals

Don't use salt on new concrete or too much of it. Look for products that mix in less harmful ice melting chemicals. They do less damage to concrete, plants and grass. Some products are safe for pets to walk on. Although Hedlund says pure salt is usually least expensive - "like $3.99 for a 50-pound bag. It's just that salt that does considerable damage," he warned.

Homeowners worried about patches or small areas of ice and want to be cautious should consider sand or bird seed.

See all watches and warnings here.

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