INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An early spring storm dumped a record 9 inches of snow on Indianapolis, made the roads slick with slush and ice and created havoc with the Monday morning commute.
While snowstorms in March aren't unusual, the snow that fell Sunday into Monday easily exceeded anything on record for those dates, National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Ryan said.
Renaee Thompson, a 24-year-old administrative assistant who lives in Indianapolis, said the snow made her late to work. She had to dig out her car and then slid along slushy roads filled with other commuters.
"I was out there for a good 15 minutes trying to wipe off my car," Thompson said. "There was a lot of snow on my car; at least 5 inches."
Police in central Indiana said some roads looked clear but wet, but they were covered with ice that made the morning commute hazardous. Troopers responded to more than 60 accidents, including nearly 20 with injuries, and dozens of slide-offs. Drivers weren't slowing down to compensate for the conditions, they said.
"It's all driving too fast, following too close," Indiana State Police Sgt. Rich Myers said. "People need to slow down for weather conditions, allow a lot more distance between you and the vehicle ahead, and I think we could alleviate a lot of this."
First Sgt. Tim Kaiser, assistant commander at the Pendleton post, which oversees I-69 and I-70 east of Indianapolis, said the same thing.
"People get up to speed on the wet road, only to come across a section of I-69 that has iced over from the blowing snow," he said.
State police said road conditions were improving along Interstate 65 near Lafayette after numerous reports of accidents overnight in an eight-county region. Troopers reported responding to 28 crashes, including five with injuries, 58 slide-offs and 12 people calling for help.
But by late Monday morning, the sun was shining and road conditions were good, 1st Sgt. Greg Dunkle said.
The Indiana Department of Transportation's Greenfield District east of Indianapolis said it had 175 snowplows on duty Sunday night, and more crews reported at midnight. Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard gave nonessential city employees the morning off and told them not to report to work until 1 p.m. to help reduce traffic, but other drivers were on the roads, which remained slick.
Some schools were closed Monday and other events near Indianapolis postponed. Acclaimed poet and author Maya Angelou postponed an appearance at Butler University because of the storm. She was scheduled to speak on campus Tuesday as part of a university lecture series.
By lunchtime on Monday, the snow had diminished in the western part of the state, National Weather Service meteorologist Michael Koch said. He said the counties just north of I-70 felt the brunt of the storm, while the extreme northern and southern portions of the state got away with a dusting or a couple of inches.
Ashley James, who grew up in California, said she was used to spending her free time outdoors in March. Instead, the 27-year-old employee relations coordinator had to bundle up and force herself to leave the house and face the cold temperatures that are stretching into spring.
The latest significant snowfall on record in Indianapolis was 5 inches on April 9, 1897, National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Ryan said. The previous record for March 24 was set in 1912, when Indianapolis got about 6 inches of snow.
James, who has lived in Indiana since 2003, said she's still not used to this weather.
"I'm over this weather," she said. "It's spring already. It's the end of March. Where's the sun? Where's the flowers?"
Associated Press reporter Pamela Engel contributed to this story.