One year ago this Friday, December 8, the first and largest snow storm of the 2005-2006 winter season struck Indianapolis, crippling transportation throughout the city and leaving Hoosiers stunned at the reminder of how quickly winter weather can turn hazardous in Indiana.
The storm sparked a minor controversy in the Indianapolis area. Some questioned local highway departments for the problems in clearing streets, while many pointed to the impatience of their fellow motorists as the problem. Still others pointed out that such problems may be inevitable with snowfall rates approaching one to two inches per hour and visibilities as low as one eighth of a mile.
City streets were clogged with commuters, many of whom left their places of business at the height of the storm in an attempt to avoid a snowy rush hour. Unfortunately, once snow began (around 200 PM EST), roads quickly became hazardous, and the sheer number of commuters brought traffic to a virtual standstill, and made it nearly impossible for plows to navigate through the city. Many citizens reported commutes taking up to ten or more times the normal amount of time due to the gridlock. Compounding the problem were 214 accidents reported by the Marion County Sheriff’s Department, 119 accidents to which the Indiana State Police responded, and many cars which were simply abandoned in the roads as they ran out of gas in the heavy traffic. Streets were snowy and slick, but traffic prevented snowplow crews from remedying the problem quickly.
The 7.7 inches of snow measured that day at the Indianapolis International Airport made the day the sixth snowiest on record at that site. Throughout central Indiana, snowfall totals generally ranged from 4 to 8 inches, with most areas receiving 6-7 inches of snow.
This photo by Indianapolis Star photographer Matt Detrich appeared in the December 9, 2005 edition of the paper. The view is south from the top of the Star’s building in the 300 block of Pennsylvania Street.
Residents of Central Indiana can take solace in the fact that no snow storm of this magnitude is currently in the forecast. However, it is essential that we be prepared for the possibility of such a storm at any time during the winter. Hazardous winter weather is a fact of life in Central Indiana.
See our 2006 Winter Weather Preparedness page for information on being prepared and staying safe before, during, and after hazardous winter weather.
Information for this story was compiled from Storm Data, local observations, and reports from the Indianapolis Star.