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UPDATE, 12PM THUR: Travel is, in a word, treacherous.
Across southwest Indiana, southern Illinois and western Kentucky, emergency crews bolstered by National Guard personnel are struggling to get to hundreds of stranded motorists and move abandoned vehicles so they can get the roads open again.
Indiana State Trooper Bob Taylor tells Newswatch that they are making progress on the worst stretch of Interstate 64 north of Evansville. He says they're going from vehicle to vehicle, looking for stranded motorists and moving abandoned vehicles. Interstate 64 is still closed from the Illinois state line to U.S. Highway 231.
Trooper Taylor says another problem has cropped up on U.S. Highway 41 near I-64. He says there have been a number of accidents in that area involving semis.
A group of heroes is emerging from the stories of overnight chaos on the roads. Volunteers with four wheel drive vehicles and farmers on tractors helped many cars, including some emergency vehicles, out of snow drifts in the near blizzard conditions Wednesday night.
UPDATE, 8:30AM THUR: A state of emergency has been declared for most of the Tri-state. Many roads, especially secondary roads are impassable and authorities are asking you not to travel.
One of the worst stretches is on I-64 from the Illinois state line east to U.S. Highway 231. Indiana State Police have closed a portion of the road. If you have a loved one that is stranded on I-64, you are being advised to ask them to call the Indiana State Police Post at 867-2079.
Let them know their exact location. Many of the troopers vehicles and one of the National Guard Humvees have been stranded as well. ISP is saying it may be later Thursday morning or even Thursday afternoon before they can reach everyone.UPDATE, 6:30AM THUR: Reports still filter in of stranded motorists on Interstate 64, of stranded second shift Toyota workers in Gibson County, and stranded motorists as well on the southbound Pennyrile Parkway near the Calhoun exit.
Newswatch's Ben Jackey has been out all night following Indiana Guard troops trying to help the hundreds of stranded motorists on Interstate 64. Ben says one group he followed out to I-64 was still not back off the highway three hours later.
A state of emergency still exists for Evansville, Vanderburgh County and many other Tri-state counties. Officials stress that only emergency traffic should be on the road until the situation has improved.
UPDATE, 2AM THUR: Newswatch's Ben Jackey reports that U.S Highway 41 is passable at this time in the area of Interstate 64. Ben says there are a number of Indiana Guard vehicles in the area. The 1st Battalion of the 163rd Field Artillery has been mobilized to assist with the current weather situation.
Kathy Schoettlin with the Red Cross says stranded motorists will be taken to the Red Cross shelter at Stockwell Road and the Lloyd Expressway.
As it turns out, the Wednesday snow total for Evansville is the second highest on record, at 19.3 inches. The highest total of just over 22 inches was set in 1918.
Storm Team meteorologist Jeff Lyons says we should see the snow tapering off later Thursday morning.
Tune to Newswatch Sunrise for complete coverage and come back to this site for updates.
UPDATE, 11:30PM WED: The Indiana National Guard is being mobilized to rescue stranded motorists on Interstate 64.
Indiana State Police tell Newswatch that there are hundreds of vehicles stranded on I-64 between the Illinois state line and U.S. Highway 231. They say the Guard is being asked to transport the motorists to the armory in Evansville. This is expected to take several hours.
The Gibson County sheriff reports that second shift workers at the Toyota plant are being advised not to try to drive home. They are being advised to go to the Red Cross shelter set up at the Princeton Municipal Building on State Street.
UPDATE, 8:30 WED: Thunder and lightning are usually associated with warmer temperatures, but Evansville is seeing a rare instance of thunder snow Wednesday evening.
Storm Team chief meteorologist Jeff Lyons says the thunder snow means we can expect more intense snowfall for the next couple of hours. Jeff says the snow should taper off and move out of the area sometime Thursday morning.
UPDATE, 7:30PM WED: Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel and Vanderburgh County Commissioners have declared a "State of Emergency" for the City of Evansville and Vanderburgh County in response to the heavy snowfall and gusting winds that have caused poor road conditions in the area.
"Unless it is an emergency situation, people should not travel in Evansville and Vanderburgh County," said Mayor Weinzapfel. "City and county road crews need access to the streets so they may be cleared in a safe manner and emergency personnel need to be able to rapidly respond to emergencies."
The "State of Emergency" declaration is in effect until further notice.
City employees wishing to pick up their payroll checks may do so between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. on Friday, December 24, 2004, in the Department of Administrative Services' office, Room 203 of the Civic Center.
A state of emergency has also been declared for Webster County, Kentucky.
UPDATE, 7PM WED: There are state of emergency declarations now for Warrick, Gibson and Perry Counties in southwest Indiana. Indian Governor Joe Kernan has also ordered non-essential state offices in the affected area to be closed.
Some snow totals as of 6pm CST: nine inches at Mt. Carmel, eight inches in Henderson, 12 inches at Winslow and four inches at Madisonville.
Storm Team chief meteorologist Jeff Lyons says we can expect six to twelve more inches of snow before the storm moves out on Thursday. Strong northwest winds will force wind chills below zero, and reduce visibility in places to near blizzard like conditions.
Travel is not recommended until the storm passes.
UPDATE, 2PM WED: It looks like round two of the winter weather may be nastier than the first wave Wednesday morning.
Storm Team meteorologist Jeff Lyons the Winter Storm Warning has been extended into Thursday now for the entire Tri-state. The reason is another low pressure system, poised to dump up to ten more inches of snow on the area.
The difference this time will be much lower temperatures and much higher winds, that will produce significant blowing and drifting, along with the potential for near blizzard conditions.
Jeff says the next round should start hitting the Tri-state around 6-7pm Wednesday evening.
This could be a dangerous storm. Do not travel unless absolutely necessary. Tune to Newswatch for updates, and come back to this site for closing information, road conditions and updated storm forecasts.
UPDATE, 12PM WED: Byron says we're going to get a break from the snow in the Evansville area shortly. Doppler radar shows that band of snow ending just west of the city now.
However, Byron says another low pressure system is forming over Missouri this afternoon and will likely bring 2-4 more inches of snow later Wednesday. The National Weather Service earlier extended the winter storm warning until 6am CST Thursday.
UPDATE, 9AM WED: Storm Team meteorologist Byron Douglas has raised his projected snow totals for this storm. Byron says we'll see 8-13" in Evansville, 9-15" in Vincennes, and 4-8" in Owensboro.
UPDATE, 8AM WED: The National Weather Service has extended the Winter Storm Warning until 6am CST Thursday.
Storm Team meteorologist Byron Douglas there could be two separate snowfall events from this storm. Most areas north of the Ohio River are reporting more than six inches of snow, with heavy snow continuing. South of the Ohio River, the snow began falling about daybreak over a layer of ice and sleet.
UPDATE, 6:30AM WED: A Storm Team spotter in St. Wendel tells Newswatch that they have almost eight inches of snow. Another spotter reports seven inches in Ft. Branch.
Storm Team meteorologist Byron Douglas says the snow will continue through Wednesday morning, with a second snow event possible Wednesday afternoon.
UPDATE, 5AM WED: Storm Team spotters report two inches of snow in St. Phillips. In Calhoun, KY, there is no snow yet, but sleet has been falling for several hours.
Traffic is treacherous. Do not venture out if you don't have to. There are numerous reports of slide offs. Right now, there are no reports of serious injuries.
UPDATE, 10PM TUE: The winter storm is progressing as predicted. Storm Team meteorologist Jeff Lyons says we can expect the rain to change over to all snow between 1-3am CST Wednesday. Accumulations will be six inches or more in the Evansville area.
Jeff says the snow will likely taper off Wednesday afternoon, and then we could see a second round of snow Wednesday evening and into Thursday.
UPDATE, 5PM TUE: Storm Team chief meteorologist Jeff Lyons says we should see 4-6 inches of snow in the Evansville area from this storm, although some computer models are predicting up to 12 inches.
Jeff says the snow should begin around 6-7am CST Wednesday, preceded by rain after midnight Tuesday and a wintry mix as the temperatures drop overnight.
Click here for 14 WFIE's Snow Watch Information, which includes tips on winter weather emergencies and winter weather driving so you can be prepared in the event of a major snow event.
Jeff Lyons will have the latest on what could be a major winter storm for the Tri-state on Newswatch at 6 and 10. As always, in the event of severe weather, 14wfie.com will be staffed continuously to bring you any updates. Trust the Tri-State's News Leader when severe weather threatens!
UPDATE, 2PM TUE: The National Weather Service has now issued a Winter Storm Warning for most of the Tri-state Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.
The Weather Service is predicting that rain will begin in the Evansville area around midnight Tuesday, with a wintry mix as temperatures drop, and finally changing to all snow about sunrise Wednesday.
Even though they're not going to get as much snow, western Kentucky residents may see the worst of this storm. The Weather Service is predicting three to six inches of snow there, on top of a layer of ice.
Jeff Lyons will have the latest on what could be a major winter storm for the Tri-state on Newswatch at 5, 6 and 10. As always, in the event of severe weather, 14wfie.com will be staffed continuously to bring you any updates. Trust the Tri-State's News Leader when severe weather threatens!
UPDATE, 12PM TUE: Storm Team meteorologist Byron Douglas says the storm track and timing are continuing as predicted. We're still looking at rain changing to snow sometime Wednesday morning. Five to seven inches of snow are predicted by Thursday morning for the Evansville area, three to five inches for Owensboro, and six to eight inches for Vincennes.
Byron says that sometimes winter storms in the Tri-state take a more northerly turn and we end up with mostly rain. Byron says that what makes it more likely that this storm will act as predicted is that the rush of cold air coming in overnight Tuesday will continue into the southern states, where snow is predicted in places like Alabama and Mississippi.
Tune to Newswatch at 5, 6 and 10 for complete coverage, and come back to this site for any updates. In the event of severe winter weather, 14wfie.com will be staffed continuously to provide you with the latest information.
UPDATE, 6AM TUE: High temperatures near 50 on Tuesday will give way to snow, possibly heavy, during the day Wednesday.
Storm Team meteorologist Byron Douglas says we can look for the precipitation to begin as rain Tuesday night. Then, when a strong shot of polar air moves into the area, the rain will change to snow early Wednesday morning, with 5-7 inches of snow possible in the Evansville area.
Heavier snow is possible to the north, while areas south of the Ohio River could see mostly rain.
Byron says temperatures will drop into the 20's Wednesday, and lows will dip to near zero for Christmas Eve.
As always, 14wfie.com is your 24/7 source for winter weather information. The site will be staffed as necessary to provide continuous updates on the storm.
EARLIER: It could be a white Christmas and then some for the Tri-state.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for most of the Tri-state for Tuesday night and Wednesday.
A strong low pressure system is expected to form along the Texas Gulf Coast Tuesday evening, then move into the lower Ohio River Valley early Wednesday. The system will be met by a blast of polar air as it moves over the Tri-state area, bringing the possibility of heavy snow.
The Weather Service says up to eight inches of snow are possible, with the heaviest snow predicted to fall along a line from Sikeston, Missouri to Evansville, as of 2pm CST Monday.
Areas south of the Ohio River in western Kentucky could see a rain, snow, sleet mixture that could also mean hazardous driving conditions.
Tune to Newswatch at 5,6 and 10 for complete coverage, and come back to this site for any updates.