Bitterly cold gusts and icy conditions slow travel, down power lines

Central Indiana awoke Friday morning to less snow than feared, but subzero temperatures and strong wind gusts still closed many area holiday attractions and created slick but passable roads.

Two inches of snow fell across much of the area overnight, on the low end of the two to five inches that had been predicted earlier. But gusting winds of 20 to 50 miles per hour pushed wind chills to -20 to -40 degrees.

Some flights at Indianapolis International Airport were canceled or delayed as was some Greyhound bus travel, temporarily stranding some travelers trying to make it to the homes of friends and family to celebrate Christmas.

Blowing winds also downed power lines, causing outages. AES reported as many as 5,000 Indiana customers were without power overnight, but that number had been reduced to 2,576 as of 6 a.m.

Museums that often draw large crowds during the holiday season closed due to the bitter cold.

Newfields said its Winterlights holiday display will be closed Friday, as will the entire museum campus, including the popular Lume exhibit. The Children’s Museum also will be closed Friday.

The National Weather Service extended its winter storm warning for the Indianapolis area until 7 p.m. Friday, due to ongoing gusty winds, bitter wind chills and blowing and drifting snow. Temperatures dipped to -9 degrees overnight and Friday’s high was expected to reach only -2. A 20% chance of snow was predicted for Friday night, with blowing and drifting continuing.

Weather conditions were much more challenging in northern Indiana. A blizzard warning was issued for an area stretching from Lake County east to South Bend and Goshen. Additional snow accumulation of two to 10 inches was predicted in that area.

Experts warned against traveling unless absolutely necessary due to bitterly cold conditions that can cause frostbite in less than 10 minutes.

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