Flights, classes canceled as Indiana braces for storm

By Rick Callahan

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Jan. 31 2011 7:04 p.m. MST

Indiana residents stocked up on emergency generators, groceries and other provisions Monday after forecasters predicted a winter storm would coat the central part of the state with ice and northern counties with a foot or more of snow.

Gov. Mitch Daniels and other state leaders said Indiana State Police, highway crews and other agencies were prepared for the storm, expected in full force by Tuesday.

The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for five northwestern Indiana counties — Lake, Porter, Newton, Jasper and Benton, including the cities of Gary, Valparaiso and Rensselaer — for a 24-hour period beginning at 3 p.m. CST Tuesday. Forecasters said up to 18 inches of snow could fall there.

A winter storm warning covered most of the rest of Indiana. Freezing rain began falling during the Monday evening rush hour in Indianapolis while snow began to dust areas farther north.

Indianapolis International Airport said some flights that were due to arrive Monday night were canceled, as were some early departures Tuesday.

Co-owner Jack Runyon of Runyon Equipment Rental in Carmel said he had run out of small emergency generators snapped up by a crush of customers bracing for the prospect of ice-related power outages.

"I've never seen a prediction of what have you — rain, snow, ice, whatever — where people reacted so quickly to it," Runyon said.

Kyle Decker of DailyMed pharmaceutical services carted a 25-kilowatt generator away from in case it was needed to operate packaging machines and computer programs.

"If the power goes out, that's a pretty big issue for us because we have to stick pretty close to a production line schedule just to make sure the patients get their medication in good time," Decker said.

Forecasters predicted an inch or more of ice would glaze the state's midsection. Rain was forecast for southern Indiana.

Power companies assured state utility regulators they had extra repair crews on standby to respond to downed lines and outages, Daniels and Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman said.

Gasoline was sold out at several Muncie service stations, The Star Press reported.

Butler University and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis were among the first schools to cancel Tuesday classes.

In South Bend, where nearly 75 inches of snow already has fallen this winter, people were resigned to digging out again.

"My back is still recovering from shoveling out from the last one," said retiree Mel Goralski.

Daniels, Skillman and Indiana Homeland Security Director Joe Wainscott told reporters the Indiana National Guard was on alert to help with rescues and debris removal.

They said backup generators were available to power part of the Statehouse and an Emergency Operations Center nearby if electricity service is lost.

Some state police post commanders canceled days off to have more troopers working Tuesday and Wednesday.

State highway department districts in northern and central Indiana planned to have trucks constantly on the road, with front-end loaders in typical high-drift areas in northern Indiana.

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Associated Press writers Ken Kusmer in Indianapolis and Tom Coyne in South Bend contributed to this report.

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