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Harsh conditions beat - or come close - to records

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GREENFIELD — The good news is it’s not going to be as cold today, according to the National Weather Service in Indianapolis, assuming you think a temperature of around 6 degrees is a vast improvement.

Sunday’s onslaught, however, combined with Monday’s bottom-dwelling temperatures, delivered a body blow to central Indiana that in all likelihood will combine to set two records.

Sunday’s 11.4-inch, 24-hour snowfall total in the area topped the previous January record of 10.3 inches in 1965 and the blizzard of 1978, according to Dan McCarthy, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service in Indianapolis.

Records show Sunday’s snow was only 0.7 inches off the area’s all-time high of 12.1 inches set on March 19, 1906.

With temperatures frozen well below zero all day Monday, McCarthy was fairly confident another record would fall before day’s end.

“I think we’ve got a good chance at a low maximum temperature,” he said. “It could be the lowest high temperature we’ve ever had.”

On New Year’s Day in 1864, the thermometer dropped to minus 12, according to records.

Sunday evening also brought near blizzard conditions, with the heavy snow and bone-snapping temperatures, with a high wind gust of 43 mph reported at approximately 9 p.m., McCarthy said.

Blizzard conditions require 35 mph winds sustained over three hours, and “we were near that,” McCarthy said.

However, Sunday’s winds were nowhere near the 50 mph-plus winds that blew through central Indiana during the blizzard of 1978. From Jan. 25 through Jan. 27, Hoosiers hunkered down as significant snow fell for nearly 31 hours, leaving 20 inches of powder on the ground.

Though wind chills dropped to minus 50, the temperatures – compared to Monday – were significantly warmer at zero.

“Our winds didn’t get as high as 50 mph, but we were certainly colder than 1978,” McCarthy said.

Given the forces and factors in play over the weekend, McCarthy said there wasn’t much that central Indiana residents dodged in terms of the snow and temperature one-two punch.

“I think we got just about everything we bargained for,” McCarthy said.

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