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Snowstorm catches drivers off guard


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Traffic backs up along U.S. 31 in Franklin during rush hour Friday after a snowstorm brought more snow than expected.
Traffic backs up along U.S. 31 in Franklin during rush hour Friday after a snowstorm brought more snow than expected.

Traffic backs up along U.S. 31 in Franklin during rush hour Friday after a snowstorm brought more snow than expected.
Traffic backs up along U.S. 31 in Franklin during rush hour Friday after a snowstorm brought more snow than expected.

Traffic backs up along U.S. 31 in Franklin during rush hour Friday after a snowstorm brought more snow than expected.
Traffic backs up along U.S. 31 in Franklin during rush hour Friday after a snowstorm brought more snow than expected.


What was supposed to be a dusting of snow turned into a snowstorm, causing dozens of accidents and miles-long backups.

By now, we thought we were used to 1 to 3 inches of snow. But when the snowflakes started, it wasn’t a flurry but another full-blown snowstorm.

Within the first three hours, 4 inches of snow fell in Indianapolis.

Another inch fell during rush hour as drivers slowly made their way home on snow-covered roads. Snowfall hit 5.1 inches in Indianapolis before tapering off about

6:30 p.m. Friday, according to the National Weather service.

The heavy snow caused whiteouts and kept local police busy all afternoon. By 3 p.m. — about three hours after the snow began — officers in Johnson County, Greenwood and Franklin had been called to 45 slide-offs and accidents.

Traffic along state highways and interstates was backed up and crawling before rush hour even started, including an accident on Interstate 65 about a mile north of Franklin that slowed commuters on their way home.

Average speeds on interstates around Indianapolis dropped to less than 30 mph in most areas and were less than 15 mph in spots with the heaviest traffic near downtown and along Interstate 69 on the northeast side of Indianapolis, according to Indiana Department of Transportation traffic data.

Johnson County sheriff’s deputies were called to nine slide-offs and nine accidents, including two with injuries, by 3 p.m. Greenwood had four slide-offs and six accidents, and Franklin police helped with seven slide-offs and 10 accidents.

At 3 p.m., Franklin officers were helping drivers who had wrecked at four different locations at the same time.

If drivers had gotten used to driving in snow so far this winter, it certainly wasn’t showing, Franklin Police Lt. Kerry Atwood said.

“For three hours? I’d definitely say that’s a lot,” Atwood said.

The snow was definitely more than expected for central Indiana.

The National Weather Service had been predicting 1 to 3 inches for the Indianapolis area, with heavier snow falling farther south in areas such as Bloomington, Columbus and Seymour, meteorologist Jason Puma said.

But the track of the storm moved north, bringing heavy snow to the metropolitan area.

Within the first three hours, 4 inches had come down at the Indianapolis International Airport, and the storm was expected to continue into the evening, he said.

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