A winter storm could bring up to six inches of snow to Johnson County later this week if current forecasts hold.
The National Weather Service in Indianapolis issued a Winter Storm Watch Monday that will be in effect from 1 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday for a large portion of central and northeastern Indiana, including Johnson County. Heavy snowfall is possible across the entire watch area, and total snow accumulations could be anywhere from 3 to 7 inches, according to the NWS.
Locally, about 3 to 6 inches of snow are expected across a vast majority of Johnson County, with the extreme southeastern corner, including Edinburgh, seeing about 1 to 3 inches. Franklin has an 85% chance of seeing at least two inches of snow and a 46% chance of seeing more than four inches, Monday afternoon forecasts show.
“As far as Johnson County is concerned, there will be a decent gradient of snowfall … but in general we’re expecting 3 to 6 inches,” said Aaron Updike, a meteorologist with the NWS’ Indianapolis forecast office.
The snow is expected to fall in two waves, with the first beginning around 2 a.m. Wednesday and the second starting sometime between 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Wednesday. Some uncertainty remains for the first wave though, Updike said.
“There’s still some uncertainty as to how much is going to accumulate as snow because it will be near freezing,” he said. “The later one should be more snow and should accumulate fairly well.”
Regardless, both waves will produce high snowfall rates at times and reduce visibility, he said.
Unlike the last winter storm that affected Indiana around Christmas, no ice accumulations are expected this week. There might be some rain mixed in with the snow, but forecasters do not expect anything to hit the surface and then freeze again, he said.
Dangerously cold temperatures like what was seen in December are also not expected.
“Temperatures may drop later in the week, but we’re not expecting anything near what we saw back in late December,” Updike said.
High temperatures on Tuesday will be around 42 degrees, with the lows Tuesday night being near freezing. As the storm and a cold front move in on Wednesday, highs will be near 35 degrees during the day, forecasts say.
Although there won’t be ice accumulations or dangerous cold, the storm could still make travel very difficult. With the second wave starting around 8 a.m., hazardous conditions could impact the morning commute, according to the NWS.
“That Wednesday morning commute is where we are most worried for hazardous travel,” Updike said.
Officials are encouraging people to prepare now for the storm so they don’t get caught off guard. Updike encourages people to follow typical winter weather preparedness actions and prepare for hazardous conditions.
People should make sure they have food and water just in case they’re not able to venture out. If someone has to travel, make sure to take extra time and to have blankets, water and food in case they get stranded on roadways, he said.
He also encourages residents to stay tuned for forecast updates before and during the storm.
“There’s still some uncertainty with this, so we’ll update this periodically throughout the day, tonight and into tomorrow,” Updike said.
Here’s the forecast for Johnson County from Tuesday through Thursday, courtesy of the National Weather Service. Forecast is as of Monday afternoon:
Tuesday: Partly cloudy in the morning, then becoming mostly cloudy. Highs in the lower 40s. Southwest winds of 5 to 10 miles per hour.
Tuesday night: Snow showers. Rain showers. Snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches. Cold. Near steady temperature in the lower 30s. East winds of 5 to 10 mph, increasing to 15 to 20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph toward daybreak. Chance of precipitation near 100%.
Wednesday: Rain and snow showers. Additional light snow accumulation. Near steady temperature in the mid 30s. East winds of 15 to 20 mph, becoming northwest in the afternoon. Gusts up to 30 mph. Chance of precipitation near 100%.
Wednesday night: Cloudy with a 20% chance of snow showers. Cold with lows in the upper 20s. West winds of 15 to 20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph.
Thursday: Mostly cloudy. A slight chance of snow showers in the morning, then a chance of snow showers in the afternoon. Cold. Near steady temperature around 30. Chance of snow 30%.
Here are some safety tips from the Indiana Department of Transportation on how to travel safely during winter weather:
- Slow down and adjust travel to conditions, especially on snow covered roads.
- Never tailgate or drive beside a snowplow, the driver’s visibility may be limited.
- The safest place on the road during a winter storm is behind a snowplow, but if you must pass, do so carefully.
- Be prepared in case of a crash and becoming stranded. Drivers should always carry an emergency kit in their vehicles with food, water, a phone charger, sand or cat litter, flares or bright LED alternatives, a flashlight and blankets.
- Keep your vehicle full of gas.
- Keep a shovel in your car to dig out around your tires and your tailpipe if needed.
- Make sure your vehicle battery is strong, fluids are at the appropriate levels and your spare tire is properly inflated.