More snow coming our way

Columbus in path of Saturday storm which likely will bring wintry mix

Some Columbus residents are keeping a wary eye on the weather tonight through Saturday as a wintry mix of sleet and snow could complicate weekend plans.

Several inches of snow is forecast for the Columbus area, starting with a wintry mix, said Shannan Hinton, Bartholomew County Emergency Management director. But forecasters also are saying 6 to 10 inches of snow is possible north of Columbus — in and around Indianapolis.

This weekend’s potential icy and snowy mess follows Wednesday’s band of snow that dropped 4 to 5 inches of snow on Columbus, causing some residents to question just when spring is actually going to arrive.

“It’s getting me all mixed up,” said Tom Harpring, Developmental Services, Inc. marketing and public relations officer. “I thought we just had the first day of spring.”

Harpring and DSI are preparing for a major fundraiser Saturday, the agency’s D-Vine Wine and Beer Fest at The Commons.

Since it’s an indoor event, Harpring isn’t too worried about the forecast, saying any snow could actually work to the event’s advantage since people will be motivated to look for indoor activities and might stop in at the wine and beer fest.

Ironically, the event in past years was conducted in February as a winter festival, advertised as something to do between the holidays and before spring, he said. The wine and beer fest will feature at least 16 area vendors offering wine, beer or distilled drinks, drawing guests from all over Indiana and around the Midwest, he said.

Organizers already have sold more than 500 tickets and are hoping to exceed last year’s total of 800 attendees with ticket sales at the door, he said. Last year’s event netted about $20,000 to help individuals with disabilities in the Columbus community.

“I’m keeping my fingers crossed on the weather,” Harpring said.

Meanwhile, Bartholomew County Indivisible is planning a carpool caravan to Indianapolis for Saturday’s March for Our Lives at the Indiana Statehouse, scheduled for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The march is in support of school safety and a response to recent school shooting incidents.

Jenny Heichelbech, a member of the group, said there is a little concern about the weather, but “we live in Indiana.”

The local group probably won’t make a decision on its caravan until the weather arrives, said Heichelbech, who expects the Indianapolis march itself to go forward since it’s linked a national event.

The vehicle caravan is scheduled to leave from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 2651 California St., Columbus at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

Bartholomew County Indivisible doesn’t have an estimate on how many people might be planning on lining up for the caravan, but Heichelbech said she hopes everyone uses their best judgment when it comes to the weather.

Columbus Department of Public Works crews are on standby for Saturday and preparing for a possible winter storm, department director Bryan Burton said.

Burton has been watching the various weather models being forecast and said the city can’t pre-treat any roads as this weather event will start out with as much as ½-inch of rain, which would wash away the road chemicals.

The rain will be followed by possible dropping temperatures that could result in freezing rain, and everything will hinge on where and when that happens and how far the temperature drops, Burton said.

“It’s going to be a tricky one,” he said.

Burton thinks the Saturday weather will mirror what happened Wednesday, except with not as much snow — and instead of sunny skies, there might be more rain later Saturday that could wash away the snow and help out snow-removal crews.

Public Works crews will be manning 14 large trucks and five or six smaller trucks in the event the city receives measurable snow, Burton said.

Bartholomew County crews also are standing by for Saturday, highway engineer Danny Hollander said. Eighteen employees will be out in five large trucks and several more 3-ton trucks used in snow removal, he said.

Hollander predicted that any snowfall the area receives on Saturday will be similar to what happened Wednesday — a wet snow that comes up well with the plows.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.