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Indianapolis braces for ‘historic’ winter storm

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Nearly every agency in Indianapolis on Wednesday was bracing for the incoming winter weather, calling the upcoming storm “historic.”

Indianapolis could see up to 12 hours of wind chill temperatures at 20 below zero or colder during the winter storm. The National Weather Service said it’s uncommon for the area.

Sam Lashley, a warning coordination meteorologist for the Indianapolis National Weather Service, said, “We don’t see these wind chills for this long this often and, climatologically speaking, 4-6 hours is all we will see wind chills at 25 to 30 below.”

The prolonged period of excessive cold is only one concern. Rain on Thursday is expected to turn into a flash freeze Thursday night as temperatures drop rapidly from the 40s to the single digits.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said, “Temperatures will remain safe until late Thursday. Frankly, at that point they will fall off a cliff, so if you still need to shop for gifts or if you need to shop for groceries, take care of it as soon as possible and certainly no later than tomorrow evening. When you must travel make sure you have enough gas to get to where you are going, dress appropriately, and cover up all skin whenever you are outdoors.”

The Indianapolis Department of Public Works says its crews are prepared to start salting roads around 3 p.m. Thursday as the rain subsides.

“Those crews will have an overlap in the overnight hours so there’s not going to be a gap in service as we continue to fight the snow into the evening and the late hours of tomorrow night,” said Brandon Herget, the director of the Department of Public Works. “We’re going to continue to manage that process into the weekend with the holiday and Monday with the Colts game.”

Indy Parks was preparing warming centers. Washington Park Family Center will have extended hours from 8 p.m. Friday to 8 a.m. Sunday. Garfield Park and Thatcher Park family centers will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Officials also encouraged everyone to check on their vulnerable neighbors, especially the elderly. “Remind them to only use conventional methods to heat their home,” said Lauren Rodriguez, the deputy mayor for public health and safety. “Don’t use an open oven or an open flame for extended periods of time.”

The mayor also encouraged everyone to bring pets inside during the storm, and prepare pipes for extreme temperatures to prevent a burst.

The Democrat mayor also said first responders will be out all weekend but encouraged everyone to take precautions so they are not the reason first responders have to make trips.

Watch the entire news conference on WISH-TV Facebook Live.