Due to its northern location in the hemisphere, Indiana, a state in the midwestern region of the United States, is no stranger to severe winter weather. Hoosiers know how to be ready for every kind of weather, including the ice, slick roads and sidewalks that may be quite dangerous. But even with the right planning, ice storms may cause a great deal of disruption. Let’s talk about the worst ice storm to ever hit Indiana, which forced the closure of several routes and cities.
Ice Storms Vs. Snow Storms
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Because of its geographic location, Indiana frequently experiences a combination of snow and ice storms. In Indiana, freezing rain usually falls in the middle and southern parts, whereas heavy snowfall usually falls in the northern sections. When raindrops come into touch with frozen surfaces or objects, they become supercooled and freeze, resulting in freezing rain. The raindrops effortlessly cover anything they come into contact with with a fine coating of ice since they are still liquid.
Even a modest amount of ice cover has the ability to seriously disrupt both rural and urban regions. Coatings as thin as 0.5 inches might put unneeded weight and pressure on tree branches and electricity lines. Furthermore, large ice buildups can cause costly and serious consequences. An excellent illustration of this was in 1991, when a huge ice storm devastated a large area of Indiana, causing extensive disruptions and expensive damage.
The Worst Ice Storm in Indiana History
Many people in Indiana still have vivid memories of the 1991 ice storm. The state’s northern portion was severely damaged by a strong storm that struck on March 12 and 13, late in the winter. Even in Anderson, which is about 34 miles northeast of Indianapolis, it had an impact.
One to three inches of ice covered highways, power wires, trees, and homes, bringing cities like Anderson, Lafayette, Frankfurt, and Kokomo to a complete stop. The main Interstate 65, which runs from north to south towards the Gulf of Mexico, was entirely paralyzed, making travel exceedingly dangerous. Cities and counties stopped smaller routes until workers could remove fallen trees and electrical lines to protect public safety.
About 209,000 households and 500,000 individuals in the impacted area lost energy as a result of the storm’s severe power disruptions. The National Weather Service reported that more than 100 steel power line towers were completely destroyed as a result of heavy ice accumulation. The situation was made worse by high winds blowing from the east at up to 40 mph. The tremendous cold and ice that resulted from these severe weather conditions made it very difficult to restore power for several days in many regions.
Damages from the Worst Ice Storm in Indiana
Property damage in the impacted areas of Indiana totaled an astounding $26.8 million.
An ice storm’s aftermath is a terrifying sight. The terrain is littered with fallen power lines, towers, and tree limbs, making cleanup extremely difficult. This destruction has a high cost associated with it, in addition to requiring a substantial amount of time and effort to restore. The cost of these kinds of natural disasters is underscored by the estimated $80 to $100 million in losses caused by the biggest ice storm in Indiana’s history.
During the ice storm, Governor Evan Bayh of Indiana took action by declaring a state disaster emergency for 18 counties. Tippecanoe, Benton, Howard, and Delaware were among them. In addition to causing major power outages and property damage, the storm resulted in 43 injuries and 6 heartbreaking fatalities. On March 21, 1991, Governor Bayh made a request for government assistance from the government Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) after realizing the extent of the damage. He stressed in his letter the wide-ranging harm and the financial toll it would take on Indiana’s citizens.
A senior official at PSI stated that the recent storm that blew across central and southern Indiana was one of the worst in the past 25 years and caused significant damage.
After Effects of the Worst Ice Storm in Indiana
An unexpected ice storm hit Indiana in the middle of March, and then there was another catastrophe. The ice storm arrived later than expected, which presented serious difficulties for the state. But as the weeks went by and the temperature began to climb, the situation got worse as the snow and ice on the ground melted quickly. As a result, there was flooding in several areas of the state, which made the cleanup and restoration work even more difficult.
Other Notable Icy Weather Events Impacting Hoosiers
- February 1976: From late February 4th, 1976, to the evening of February 5th, 1976, a 50-mile-wide ice storm dropped one to two inches across central Indiana. Trees, power lines, and more were damaged, and the ice did not fully melt until February 9.
- March 1988: This ice storm also hit central Indiana and impacted people from Owen County to Wayne County. Even the city of Indianapolis was not spared. This 50-mile-wide storm dropped freezing rain for around 24 hours from March 3 to March 4.
- January 2005: On January 5th and 6th, 2005, freezing rain accumulated up to half an inch of ice in northern parts of central Indiana. As many as 150,000 homes lost power, and many Hoosiers had to seek shelter at emergency centers.
- January/February 2011: Central Indiana again saw up to an inch of ice after a storm hit from January 31st, 2011, into early February 2nd, 2011. The ice was paired with wind gusts over 50 mph, which left trees down, power outages, and terrible travel delays.
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