Marshall County Emergency Management Agency Director, Clyde Avery released a quick situation report for the winter storm event on Tuesday.
The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch for Northern Indiana which goes into effect from Thursday evening through Saturday morning. Blizzard conditions are possible. Marshall County will see a wintry mix Thursday afternoon and evening and it will likely transition to snow Thursday night. Snow may be moderate to heavy at times through Saturday morning. Storm total snow amounts may exceed 6 inches, especially near Lake Michigan. Westerly winds could gust as high as 55 mph and will cause whiteout conditions and blowing and drifting across roads.
The combination of snow and strong winds gusting from 45mph to 55mph will result in blizzard to near-blizzard conditions. Roads will be snow and ice covered and extremely slick and hazardous. Drifting snow across roads will also occur. In addition, arctic air with well below zero wind chills, -15 to -30 below zero, will overspread the area Thursday night and well past the Christmas holiday. Additional lake effect snow will add to system snow totals in areas where the snow bands set up.
Extremely hazardous and dangerous driving conditions will result in accidents and slide offs. Drifting across roads may result in an increased number of calls for assistance from drivers who become stranded. Drifted roads may impact emergency response times. Exposure to extreme cold will result in frostbite and possibly hypothermia. Power outages may occur. Frozen water lines are likely.
Marshall County preparedness actions are underway with Avery and Highway Superintendent Jason Peters meeting on Monday and discussing the utilization of private contractors with front-end loaders if that should become necessary.
The EMA Director sent out an email to all the jurisdictions regarding establishing warming centers. The City of Plymouth responded that they would make the Conservation Club House available. The Town of Bourbon responded that they would make the Matchett Center available if needed. Residents who need shelter will need to contact their local law enforcement agency for access to the warming centers. The information was shared with Marshall County Dispatch Center.
Avery also sent an email to Rachel Greenwood who is the INDOT Northwest District Emergency Coordinator and asked her to keep him in the loop if INDOT determines that they may need to suspend plowing operations should it come to that. He also sent an email to Dustin Drake the IDHS North-East Region Liaison requiring information on the activation plans for the Indiana National Guard Highway Assistance Teams (H.A.T.). He responded that they have met and can develop a plan if needed. All requests for assistance from the Indiana National Guard must go through the State Emergency Operations Center.
EMA Director Avery said he will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as they are made available.