SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — County officials throughout Indiana urged people to stay off the roads Sunday as plow drivers tried to clear snow before the arrival of arctic air. The deep chill in the forecast had Gov. Mike Pence so concerned he put Indiana National Guard members on standby to help out in case of emergencies.
Numerous school districts, colleges, cities and counties announced they would be closed Monday as the National Weather Service warned of deadly wind chills as low as 45 below zero possible through Tuesday. The General Assembly also postponed the opening day of its 2014 session Monday, and the state appellate courts, including the Indiana Supreme Court, said they would be closed. Pence also announced that all state government offices would be closed.
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard upgraded the city's travel emergency level to "red," making it illegal for anyone to drive except for emergency personnel, emergency purposes or seeking shelter. It is the first time Indianapolis has issued such a travel warning since the 1978 blizzard.
He said he would reevaluate the situation at noon Monday.
At a news conference earlier Sunday, Ballard urged businesses to remain closed Monday, or at least wait until noon to open. "This combination of snow and cold is unlike anything we've seen in a long time," he said.
Areas throughout central and northern Indiana reported receiving 8 inches of snow by late Sunday afternoon. Merrillville, Crown Point and LaPorte in northwest Indiana reported 12 inches, Lebanon 11.5 inches, Michigantown — 40 miles north of Indianapolis — 11 inches, and Churubusco near Fort Wayne 10 inches. The weather service said totals in some areas could reach up to 14 inches.
The Indiana Department of Homeland Security reported about 30 counties in northern and central Indiana were asking residents to stay off the roads because of dangerous conditions. Several other counties urged residents to use roads only for essential travel, such as work. The Boone County Sheriff's Department closed State Road 32 because of whiteout conditions.