Courierarea preps for bitter cold, 4-8 inches of snow over the coming days
Saturday, January 04, 2014 4:00 AM
Judy Howard-Spader, a minister at Faith Covenant Church, doesn't like the word "handout" when it comes to giving shelter to the homeless.
Traffic moves slowly down Clifty Drive on Thursday as snow impedes their travel slightly. Crews were out most of the day dealing with the snow before it had time to accumulate on most of the busy thoroughfares. (Staff photos by Ken Ritchieemail@example.com)
She and her congregation offer emergency overnight housing for homeless people in Madison when the weather turns cold.
"We want to give them a hand up," she said. "This has been a bad winter already. We're just trying to open our hearts to them."
The church offers a warm place to sleep and shower, a blanket and pillow that the visitor can keep and a meal.
Howard-Spader said the church opens up its basement and attic between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. on nights when the temperature is 35 degrees or lower.
"Whenever the weather is intolerable, we keep it open all day for them," she said.
When the church is over capacity - which is about 14 people - Howard-Spader said the Salvation Army opens its doors for people at night.
Both the church doors and the Salvation Army might be open a lot in the coming days.
Frigid weather is headed to the Courierarea this weekend and next week. The National Weather Service's seven-day forecast predicts temperatures in the single digits and below zero with chances of snow and rain beginning today.
A hazardous weather warning issued Friday by the NWS warns of "bitterly cold air" in the area today and continuing through Wednesday.
"Very cold temperatures expected to hover near zero degrees combined with winds of 10 to 15 mph will result in dangerously low wind chills Monday morning through Tuesday morning," the release said.
Ball State University meteorologist David Call said winter weather will most likely go from bad to worse as an Arctic front moves in on Monday.
"This could bring the coldest temperatures in two decades, creating extremely hazardous conditions," he said. "This could be one of the coldest air masses to affect Indiana and the Midwest since January 1994."
The National Weather Service in Louisville forecast wind chills of -5 to -30 degrees between Sunday and Monday nights.
Wind chills colder than -18 degrees can cause frostbite in 30 minutes, NWS meteorologists warned.
Call said the last reading of temperatures below -10 degrees in Indianapolis came on Jan. 16, 2009 - something that only happens about once every five years.
NWS meteorologists also expect snow accumulations of four to eight inches of snow for the Courierarea.
"Some areas could have blizzard-like conditions coupled with extreme cold," Call said. "This is not going to be fun."
City of Madison departments ask residents to remember a few things to stay safe during the winter weather.
Residents should avoid travel when snow is falling to allow crews to clear roads more effectively with the decreased traffic, officials said in a release.
Priority and emergency routes - including Michigan Road, Telegraph Hill and Cragmont Streets - will be cleared of snow first before crews work on neighborhoods, a release from city officials said.
Dave Bell, Jefferson County's emergency management director, said there are sites across the county that are ready for people to use should large power outages or other emergencies hit the area.
Bell said he works closely with Sandy Sailer, executive director of Jefferson County American Red Cross, to keep those sites prepared throughout the year.
"We're already prepared," Bell said. "It's just a matter of making a phone call."
Bell said if a situation were to occur that would leave people without heat, people could be moved to those sites.
Central dispatch, the Madison Courier and other local media would be notified if those sites are needed, Bell said.
"We do our best to make sure everyone knows the shelter is open."
In anticipation of snow and cold weather conditions, WorkOne Southeast at 620 Green Rd., will not open until 10 a.m. on Monday.
Normal hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information call (812) 265-3734.
The General Assembly is scheduled to convene its 2014 session on Monday, but that first day could be canceled depending on the weekend snowfall and bitter cold.
Gov. Mike Pence announced Friday that state offices would open at 10 a.m. Monday.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.