January 5 Heavy Snow and Subsequent Cold Spell

Surface Map valid at 1:00 PM January 5
Surface Map Valid at 1:00 PM January 5, 2014.

What Caused This Event? Snowfall Overview Cold Temperatures
Info from Nearby Offices List of Snowfall Reports  

A powerful storm system brought heavy snow and near blizzard conditions to much of central Indiana on January 5, with a mix of rain and snow across southeast sections of the area. After the snow diminished during the evening, arctic air plunged into the area on strong winds. Temperatures plummeted and significant blowing and drifting of snow occurred. Temperatures remained below zero for over 24 hours at many locations, with wind chills around 40 below zero at times. Temperatures reached levels that had not been seen in 20 years. The snow and cold created dangerous travel conditions across much of Indiana and surrounding areas. Sections of interstates were closed down, and travel was restricted to emergency personnel only. Schools were closed for a week across parts of central Indiana.

What caused this event?

 

Large view of weather system
Water vapor satellite image shows large view 
of system that brought the cold air. White lines
show 500mb heights. Yellow arrow shows basic flow
around the system. Click to enlarge.

The jet stream dove south into the southern United States, allowing cold air straight from the Arctic to flow south into the USA. (For information on the "polar vortex", please visit this climate.gov article). This cold air interacted with plentiful moisture being drawn northward with an area of low pressure at the surface. The result was heavy snow for several hours across the northwest half of central Indiana. Across the southeast part of the area, warmer air moved north and allowed for a period of rain. This cut down on snow amounts.  As strong high pressure moved in behind the low pressure, winds increased across the area. Gusts of 30 to 40 mph were common Sunday night, resulting in blowing and drifting of the snow that fell. Gusty winds continued into January 6, creating dangerous wind chills.

Snowfall

Snowfall of 8 to 14 inches was common across areas generally along and north of a Terre Haute to New Castle line. Amounts dropped quickly to the south and east of this line due to warmer air allowing rain to fall for several hours. Areas that received heavy snow saw snow falling at a rate of an inch or more per hour during the height of the storm. At Indianapolis, snow fell at the rate of at least an inch per hour during the 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM time frame on January 5. Snowfall diminished by late afternoon but lighter snows continued into the evening. At Indianapolis, the 11.4 inches of snow that fell on January 5 was the second highest calendar day snowfall since records began, and that amount was a new record snowfall for the January 5 date. The Indianapolis record for most snowfall in a calendar day is 12.1 inches on March 19, 1906. At Indianapolis, only two other days in January have ever had greater than 10 inches of snow accumulate in 1 day: January 15, 1965 and January 26, 1978 (during the blizzard of '78).

Gusty winds ushering in the colder air brought blowing and drifting snow. Visibility was reduced in blowing snow across many areas through the day of January 6. This resulted in drifts of several feet at some locations. The snow and lowered visibility caused some roads to be shut down across parts of Indiana. Interstate 65 was shut down north of Lafayette. Some state highways and US highways were also closed. Many counties in Indiana declared travel warnings, meaning that only emergency vehicles were allowed on the roads.

A list of snowfall reports from central Indiana is at the end of this page. Below are some images related to the snowfall. Click any image to enlarge.

72 hour snowfall ending January 8 - Click to enlarge Snow depth as of 7:00 AM January 6. Click to enlarge.
72 hour snowfall map for January 5 - January 8. Indiana snow depth map as of 7:00 AM January 6.
Snow depth across midwest as of 1:00 AM January 6 - Click to enlarge View from NWS Indianapolis at about 10 AM January 5 - Click to Enlarge
Midwest snow depth map as of January 6 at 1:00 AM. Map courtesy of National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center View from NWS Indianapolis at 10:15 AM January 5.
Radar image at 9:00 AM January 5 - Click to enlarge Radar image near Noon January 5 - Click to Enlarge
Radar image and surface data plot from near 9:00 AM January 5. Radar image and surface data plot from near 12:00 PM January 5.
Radar image at about 3:00 PM January 5 - Click to enlarge Radar image at about 5:30 PM January 5 - Click to enlarge
 Radar image and surface data plot from near 3:00 PM January 5.  Radar image and surface data plot from near 5:30 PM January 5.

Cold Temperatures

 

7 day temperature/dewpoint plot ending early January 10.
7 day plot of temperature and dewpoint at Indianapolis ending early January 10.

As arctic air flowed into the area, temperatures fell quickly during the evening of January 5 and into January 6. Readings bottomed out colder than 10 below zero across most of the area that saw significant snow. These temperatures often were the coldest seen since January 1994. Temperatures remained below zero for well over 24 hours at many locales. With gusty winds continuing through January 6, wind chills fell into the 30 to 45 below zero range for prolonged periods of time. The following table summarizes some temperature facts for sites across central Indiana, based on hourly observations at the site. Temperature and wind information was missing at Lafayette for several hours during the event.

Observation Site Hours Below Zero Low temperature January 6 Low temperature January 7 Wind Chills 
(based on sustained winds)
Indianapolis 34 -15 -14 -30 or colder from 4:00 AM Jan 6 to 10:00 AM Jan 7
Lafayette ~35 N/A -14 N/A
Muncie 34 -13 -14 -30 or colder from 6:00 AM Jan 6 to 9:00 AM Jan 7
Terre Haute 34 -14 -15 -25 or colder from 3:00 AM Jan 6 to 10:00 AM Jan 7
Bloomington 31 -11 -9 -25 or colder from 7:00 AM Jan 6 to 12:00 AM Jan 7

Information from Nearby Offices

Snowfall reports Received

THE TOTALS BELOW ARE SEPARATED INTO SNOW...AND ICE AND SLEET
CATEGORIES...THEN BY AMOUNT...AND ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE
FINAL AMOUNT FOR EACH LOCATION.


SNOW REPORTS LISTED BY AMOUNT

 INCHES  LOCATION                 ST  COUNTY           TIME
 ------  -----------------------  --  --------------   -------
 15.00   TIPTON                   IN  TIPTON           1129 PM
 14.00   LEBANON                  IN  BOONE            1138 PM
 13.00   WESTFIELD                IN  HAMILTON         0649 PM
 12.00   FRANKFORT                IN  CLINTON          1000 PM
                 STORM TOTAL
 12.00   2 NE CARMEL              IN  HAMILTON         1000 PM
                 STORM TOTAL
 12.00   MUNCIE                   IN  DELAWARE         0854 PM
 12.00   ANDERSON                 IN  MADISON          0820 PM
                 FAR NORTHERN ANDERSON. REPORT RECEIVED VIA
                 TWITTER.
 12.00   3 NE MANILLA             IN  RUSH             0800 PM
 12.00   4 N FRANKFORT            IN  CLINTON          0630 PM
 12.00   WHITESTOWN               IN  BOONE            0516 PM
                 STORM TOTAL THROUGH 515 PM. REPORT RECEIVED
                 VIA TWITTER.
 11.90   2 S CASTLETON            IN  MARION           1240 AM
                 STORM TOTAL THROUGH MIDNIGHT. 1.36 INCH WATER
                 EQUIVALENT. SNOW DEPTH 13 INCHES.
 11.80   2 SE BROWNSBURG          IN  HENDRICKS        0947 PM
 11.60   2 NE GREENCASTLE         IN  PUTNAM           0839 PM
 11.50   NOBLESVILLE              IN  HAMILTON         0904 PM
 11.50   6 W LEBANON              IN  BOONE            0336 PM
 11.40   INDIANAPOLIS INT`L AIRP  IN  MARION           1200 AM
               TORM TOTAL THROUGH MIDNIGHT AT NWS INDIANAPOLIS.
 11.20   WHITESTOWN               IN  BOONE            0620 PM
 11.00   CRAWFORDSVILLE           IN  MONTGOMERY       0730 PM
                 REPORT RECEIVED VIA TWITTER.
 11.00   GREENWOOD                IN  JOHNSON          0709 PM
 11.00   2 SE BROWNSBURG          IN  HENDRICKS        0630 PM
 11.00   ALEXANDRIA               IN  MADISON          0600 PM
                 NORTHERN ALEXANDRIA. REPORT RECEIVED VIA
                 TWITTER.
 11.00   THORNTOWN                IN  BOONE            0520 PM
 11.00   BAINBRIDGE               IN  PUTNAM           0242 PM
 11.00   2 E JAMESTOWN            IN  BOONE            0146 PM
 10.80   2 SW MICHIGANTOWN        IN  CLINTON          0420 PM
 10.50   MUNCIE                   IN  DELAWARE         1127 PM
                 WEST SIDE OF MUNCIE.
 10.50   INDIANAPOLIS INT`L AIRP  IN  MARION           0700 PM
                 STORM TOTAL THROUGH 7 PM AT NWS INDIANAPOLIS.
 10.50   AVON                     IN  HENDRICKS        0614 PM
                 STORM TOTAL THUS FAR. REPORT RECEIVED VIA
                 TWITTER.
 10.50   KOKOMO                   IN  HOWARD           0500 PM
                 REPORTED FROM WEST KOKOMO. REPORT RECEIVED
                 VIA FACEBOOK.
 10.10   1 N FISHERS              IN  HAMILTON         1131 PM
                 TOTAL SNOWFALL OVER THE PAST 16 HOURS
 10.00   4 NNE TERRE HAUTE        IN  VIGO             1220 AM
                 STORM TOTAL SNOWFALL JUST EAST OF SKY KING
                 AIRPORT.
 10.00   3 N BLOOMINGDALE         IN  PARKE            0815 PM
 10.00   WEST LAFAYETTE           IN  TIPPECANOE       0633 PM
 10.00   1 N TERRE HAUTE          IN  VIGO             0517 PM
                 REPORTED FROM JUST NORTH OF TERRE HAUTE.
 10.00   CLOVERDALE               IN  PUTNAM           0449 PM
                 ESTIMATED REPORT FROM NORTH SIDE OF
                 CLOVERDALE. REPORT RECEIVED VIA TWITTER.
 10.00   FRANKFORT                IN  CLINTON          0434 PM
 10.00   DANVILLE                 IN  HENDRICKS        0239 PM
  9.80   LAWRENCE                 IN  MARION           0646 PM
  9.80   2 SSE BROWNSBURG         IN  HENDRICKS        0337 PM
  9.80   LEBANON                  IN  BOONE            0251 PM
  9.80   LEBANON                  IN  BOONE            0240 PM
  9.60   MUNCIE                   IN  DELAWARE         1207 AM
                 STORM TOTAL SO FAR
  9.60   INDIANAPOLIS INT`L AIRP  IN  MARION           0600 PM
                 STORM TOTAL THUS FAR AT NWS INDIANAPOLIS.
  9.50   INDIANAPOLIS             IN  MARION           0801 PM
                 FAR EASTSIDE INDIANAPOLIS.
  9.50   INDIANAPOLIS             IN  MARION           0739 PM
  9.50   GREENWOOD                IN  JOHNSON          0733 PM
                 REPORT RECEIVED VIA TWITTER.
  9.50   GOSPORT                  IN  OWEN             0609 PM
                 STORM TOTAL THUS FAR. REPORT RECEIVED VIA
                 TWITTER.
  9.50   CICERO                   IN  HAMILTON         0241 PM
  9.30   TERRE HAUTE              IN  VIGO             0509 PM
                 REPORT FROM SOUTHWEST TERRE HAUTE NEAR I 70
                 AND SR 63.
  9.00   MUNCIE                   IN  DELAWARE         0704 PM
  9.00   MUNCIE                   IN  DELAWARE         0700 PM
  9.00   MARTINSVILLE             IN  MORGAN           0630 PM
  9.00   NOBLESVILLE              IN  HAMILTON         0558 PM
                 REPORTED FROM CUMBERLAND RD AND GREENFIELD
                 AVE.
  9.00   2 NE CARMEL              IN  HAMILTON         0544 PM
                 REPORTED NEAR HAZEL DELL AND RIVER RD.
  9.00   3 SSW ATTICA             IN  FOUNTAIN         0540 PM
  9.00   THORNTOWN                IN  BOONE            0111 PM
  8.80   CICERO                   IN  HAMILTON         0709 PM
  8.80   4 ESE BEECH GROVE        IN  MARION           0512 PM
                 MEASUREMENT TAKEN IN WANAMAKER. REPORT
                 RECEIVED VIA TWITTER.
  8.50   EAGLE CREEK RESERVOIR    IN  MARION           0505 PM
                 STORM TOTAL THROUGH 5 PM. REPORT RECEIVED VIA
                 TWITTER.
  8.50   2 SSE BROWNSBURG         IN  HENDRICKS        0220 PM
  8.20   BROOKLYN                 IN  MORGAN           0600 PM
  8.20   MCCORDSVILLE             IN  HANCOCK          0555 PM
  8.20   2 S CASTLETON            IN  MARION           0400 PM
                 STORM TOTAL THUS FAR...0.71 INCH LIQUID
                 EQUIVALENT. SNOW DEPTH 10 INCHES.
  8.00   ELLETTSVILLE             IN  MONROE           0905 PM
                 SOUTHEAST ELLETTSVILLE.
  8.00   YORKTOWN                 IN  DELAWARE         0626 PM
  8.00   3 NNW YORKTOWN           IN  DELAWARE         0611 PM
  8.00   ANDERSON                 IN  MADISON          0600 PM
                 DOWNTOWN ANDERSON.
  8.00   MUNCIE                   IN  DELAWARE         0505 PM
  8.00   ANDERSON                 IN  MADISON          0450 PM
                 ESTIMATED REPORT FROM WEST SIDE OF ANDERSON.
                 REPORT RECEIVED VIA TWITTER.
  8.00   LEBANON                  IN  BOONE            0352 PM
  8.00   TIPTON                   IN  TIPTON           0222 PM
  8.00   KOKOMO                   IN  HOWARD           0203 PM
  7.90   INDIANAPOLIS INT`L AIRP  IN  MARION           0306 PM
  7.80   2 WSW WAVERLY            IN  MORGAN           0813 PM
  7.80   FISHERS                  IN  HAMILTON         0251 PM
  7.80   2 SW MICHIGANTOWN        IN  CLINTON          0130 PM
  7.50   BEECH GROVE              IN  MARION           0616 PM
  7.50   PENDLETON                IN  MADISON          0607 PM
                 REPORT RECEIVED VIA TWITTER.
  7.50   AVON                     IN  HENDRICKS        0245 PM
  7.50   TERRE HAUTE              IN  VIGO             0236 PM
  7.50   INDIANAPOLIS             IN  MARION           0156 PM
  7.30   ANDERSON                 IN  MADISON          0500 PM
                 DOWNTOWN ANDERSON.
  7.00   ELLETTSVILLE             IN  MONROE           0436 PM
  7.00   3 N BLOOMINGDALE         IN  PARKE            0325 PM
  7.00   INDIANAPOLIS             IN  MARION           0313 PM
  6.80   2 SE BROWNSBURG          IN  HENDRICKS        0109 PM
  6.70   INDIANAPOLIS INT`L AIRP  IN  MARION           0205 PM
                 REPORT FROM NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE.
  6.60   1 N FISHERS              IN  HAMILTON         0254 PM
  6.60   2 WSW WAVERLY            IN  MORGAN           0235 PM
  6.50   3 N BARGERSVILLE         IN  JOHNSON          0500 PM
  6.50   BROOKLYN                 IN  MORGAN           0259 PM
  6.50   WEST LAFAYETTE           IN  TIPPECANOE       0234 PM
  6.40   WESTFIELD                IN  HAMILTON         0238 PM
  6.00   4 NE WAVERLY             IN  JOHNSON          0432 PM
  6.00   BALL STATE UNIVERSITY    IN  DELAWARE         0339 PM
                 TREES ARE BENDING FROM THE WEIGHT OF THE WET
                 SNOW.
  6.00   BEECH GROVE              IN  MARION           0256 PM
  6.00   WHITESTOWN               IN  BOONE            0237 PM
  6.00   10 NW INDIANAPOLIS       IN  MARION           0140 PM
                 REPORT FROM TRADERS POINT.
  5.50   LAWRENCE                 IN  MARION           0204 PM
  5.50   CICERO                   IN  HAMILTON         0203 PM
  5.50   4 SSE GREENCASTLE        IN  PUTNAM           0145 PM
  5.50   INDIANAPOLIS INT`L AIRP  IN  MARION           0136 PM
                 REPORT FROM NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE.
  5.50   1 SSE BROWNSBURG         IN  HENDRICKS        1210 PM
  5.00   1 NW PLAINFIELD          IN  HENDRICKS        0244 PM
  5.00   3 NW FISHERS             IN  HAMILTON         0153 PM
  5.00   10 NW INDIANAPOLIS       IN  MARION           1250 PM
                 REPORT FROM 71ST AND LAFAYETTE.
  5.00   3 NW ZIONSVILLE          IN  BOONE            1244 PM
  4.70   2 S CASTLETON            IN  MARION           0123 PM
  4.50   4 NE WAVERLY             IN  JOHNSON          0200 PM
  4.50   NOBLESVILLE              IN  HAMILTON         0156 PM
  4.50   WESTFIELD                IN  HAMILTON         1245 PM
  4.50   TERRE HAUTE              IN  VIGO             1226 PM
  4.50   GOSPORT                  IN  OWEN             1026 AM
  4.30   ANDERSON                 IN  MADISON          0157 PM
  4.30   2 SE BROWNSBURG          IN  HENDRICKS        1114 AM
  4.00   2 NE CARMEL              IN  HAMILTON         0110 PM
  4.00   CICERO                   IN  HAMILTON         1256 PM
  4.00   8 W FRANKFORT            IN  CLINTON          1207 PM
  3.80   INDIANAPOLIS INT`L AIRP  IN  MARION           1209 PM
                 REPORT FROM NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE OFFICE.
  3.70   BROOKLYN                 IN  MORGAN           1249 PM
  3.40   2 WSW WAVERLY            IN  MORGAN           1210 PM
  3.30   MUNCIE                   IN  DELAWARE         0137 PM
  3.30   3 N WEST LAFAYETTE       IN  TIPPECANOE       1206 PM
  3.30   7 N SPENCER              IN  OWEN             1200 PM
  3.20   BEECH GROVE              IN  MARION           0118 PM
  3.00   FISHERS                  IN  HAMILTON         0140 PM
  3.00   ANDERSON                 IN  MADISON          0112 PM
  3.00   3 N BARGERSVILLE         IN  JOHNSON          1239 PM
  3.00   LEBANON                  IN  BOONE            1121 AM
  3.00   TERRE HAUTE              IN  VIGO             1030 AM
  3.00   THORNTOWN                IN  BOONE            0949 AM
  2.70   MCCORDSVILLE             IN  HANCOCK          1216 PM
  2.60   INDIANAPOLIS INT`L AIRP  IN  MARION           1104 AM
                 REPORT FROM THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
                 INDIANAPOLIS.
  2.50   LAFAYETTE                IN  TIPPECANOE       1015 AM
  2.00   3 S BLOOMFIELD           IN  GREENE           1100 PM
  2.00   NOBLESVILLE              IN  HAMILTON         1122 AM
  2.00   CICERO                   IN  HAMILTON         1054 AM
  2.00   TIPTON                   IN  TIPTON           0948 AM
  2.00   TERRE HAUTE              IN  VIGO             0830 AM
  1.80   WESTFIELD                IN  HAMILTON         1034 AM
  1.80   3 NW ZIONSVILLE          IN  BOONE            0926 AM
                 1.8 INCHES OF SNOW IN BETWEEN ZIONSVILLE AND
                 WHITESTOWN.
  1.50   INDIANAPOLIS INT`L AIRP  IN  MARION           1000 AM
                 1.5 INCHES SNOWFALL AT THE NATIONAL WEATHER
                 SERVICE OFFICE.
  1.50   WESTFIELD                IN  HAMILTON         0931 AM
  1.50   LAFAYETTE                IN  TIPPECANOE       0905 AM
  1.40   2 S CASTLETON            IN  MARION           1014 AM
  1.40   2 WSW WAVERLY            IN  MORGAN           1000 AM
  1.30   BRAZIL                   IN  CLAY             0852 AM
  1.20   SEYMOUR                  IN  JACKSON          0900 PM
  1.00   SHELBYVILLE              IN  SHELBY           0645 PM
  1.00   MUNCIE                   IN  DELAWARE         1105 AM
  1.00   NOBLESVILLE              IN  HAMILTON         1021 AM
  1.00   CLOVERDALE               IN  PUTNAM           0833 AM
  0.90   BLOOMINGTON              IN  MONROE           1038 AM
  0.80   GOSPORT                  IN  OWEN             0910 AM
  0.50   SHELBYVILLE              IN  SHELBY           1053 AM
                 SNOW MIXED WITH SLEET AND RAIN.
  0.50   FRANKLIN                 IN  JOHNSON          0903 AM
  0.50   MOORESVILLE              IN  MORGAN           0835 AM
  0.50   INDIANAPOLIS             IN  MARION           0834 AM
  0.30   ANDERSON                 IN  MADISON          1124 AM

 


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