Indiana is known for its strange weather that changes every few minutes and last night that was certainly the case and it also changed drastically every few miles. Folks that were driving on state road 28 from Tippecanoe County into Clinton County went from starlit skies to heavy bands of snow in an instant. In fact, there were reports of clear roadways giving way to one to two foot snow drifts with visibilities reduced to near zero. The same sort of stories were called in on Highway 24 from Logansport to Monticello. The reason for this wild weather were those very narrow lake-effect snow bands coming off of Lake Michigan. It only takes a slight wind shift for those bands to move and you can go from the all clear to white-out conditions in an instant. It does look like the roughest travel today will be in our northern counties. I did my best in this tough set-up to pinpoint the worst of the roads for you this morning below.
Areas near Medaryville and Francesville could easily see 4 to 6 inches so it looks like Highway 421 in Pulaski County leads the pack for our worst travel weather. The good news is these heavy bands of snow should quickly shift farther north and east early this morning. But we will still have plenty of wind and blowing and drifting snow to contend with until high pressure builds in which will not be until later this afternoon. We have snow to liquid ratios of 30 to 1 which means the snow is extra light and fluffy and it will not take much for it to blow around. Areas near Michigan City could end up with close to two feet of snow before all is said and done!
Speaking of impressive, how about those lights in the night sky last night. A lot of folks saw them when they were walking their dogs. They looked up and did a double take. The big question of the day is could it have been the aurora borealis. Well take a look below at some more great pictures sent in by Laura Mark.
Here is yet another one to help you make your decision on exactly what you are looking at. No you are not looking at UFO's. We can rule that one out already. I do not see any green men or flying saucers. It does look like beams of light you would normally see at Disney World at night.
Remember here in Indiana we have tons of optical phenomena, including the aurora borealis. But last night we were seeing something different. Here is why. The sun is quieter now than it has been in almost 100 years with very few solar storms or sunspots. Look at how clean it looks on space weather.com!
Usually you have a few black spots or what are called magnetic storms that can cause huge solar flares. This disturbance reaches the earth via an extra strong solar wind causing electrons to ignite like neon signs. But with no sunspots and a much lighter solar wind our chances here in Lafayette of seeing the aurora borealis are almost nil. In this pattern the aurora borealis is only visible at the high latitudes and that was the case last night. What we were seeing here in Lafayette were actually LIGHT PILLARS. LIGHT PILLARS are more commonly found in Canada and Alaska this time of year. If you notice their light takes on the same color as the lights below because they are actually reflections of light from below off of flat and fluttering ice crystals in the atmosphere. These ice crystals are usually found at 30,000 feet in the very cold air. But last night that very cold air was hovering near the ground along with those ice crystals with temperatures only near 10 degrees. This resulted in a beautiful display of light pillars. This can also happen with sunlight and in that case it would be called a sun pillar.
Now if you can hang in there for one more day and night the good news is that this bitter pillar of a pattern to swallow will be a thing of the past. This is the great part about February. Usually our bitter cold outbreaks do not last all that long with the higher sun angle. Those longer days are starting to make a difference. I will have more on this on tonight's newscasts. I look forward to seeing you soon and if you need an uplifting story to help make you feel warmer here is just the one, all the way from SIBERIA!
I thought you might be interested in this. My son, Cole, is doing missionary work in Russia and is currently located in the western edge of Siberia. Here's something he wrote me via email this morning; I've highlighted the weather portions but left some of the other to give you some context.
Needless to say, I am glad we don't get these kinds of temperatures!! (And having a son in Siberia is a good impetus to pray!! LOL)
I got on a train to Surgut. It was about a 17-hour trip. It was a good opportunity to catch up on some sleep. When we left Tyumen, it was about -8 C. Upon our arrival to Surgut, we discovered a crisp -39 C. It was very interesting to be in that kind of cold. The thing is, our thermometer was showing -32, and the whole time it was off by 7 degrees. We didn't find that out until the day I left, and as you'll see, we made some dumb decisions based off of that misinformation.
With our thermometer showing -35, meaning -42, we decided to go contact. We actually had a surprising amount of success. After that, we stopped a man who politely informed Elder Mizin that his "nose was about to fall off." We both were a tiny bit frostbitten so we decided to return home and eat, and also decided that we wouldn't be doing that again if we could help it.
The next day was very interesting too, of course. We had a meeting set up in a tiny neighboring town. We had to take a bus an hour outside of Surgut to get there. It was -45 C. When we got off the bus and Elder Mizin pointed to the house we were going to in the distance, my heart sank. It was only about a ten minute walk, but long enough to be colder than I ever thought possible. Especially because it was windy and there weren't any surrounding buildings to break the wind. We got there and the couple had decided they weren't interested anymore.
It was sad, but I left Surgut behind. Going out to the train station was an interesting experience. I was traveling by myself since I was the only one to come back, and seeing the platform at 1:00am with NO ONE around was an interesting sight. When it gets this cold, the air kind of freezes in a way, it's like there's a fog. It's so cold that you can't see through the air well, or something like that. That and the platform at that time of night was a sight I won't forget.
I spent all day yesterday traveling home. The Palmers picked me up at the train station, and we went back to their apartment and they fed us. It was good.
I also wanted to say that you don't have to worry about snow/cold stuff. It's been freezing, but I'm back in Tyumen and things are warmer here. Plus, even in the -45, I was able to be okay. It's funny to be constantly praying to be warm though!
Thanks Cole and Lynn. There have been a few complaints about our rough weather to our weather team over the past week. But after reading this I cannot see how anybody would complain. We can all be thankful for today's high near 12. Yes, it could be a lot worse and now we are getting ready for 40s and 50s in the seven day forecast. We look forward to hearing more of your intriguing stories here on the weather blog. Keep in touch and if we could we would send you some of our warmer weather.