By PAMELA ENGEL
INDIANAPOLIS — The late-winter storm that dumped a foot of snow on some areas and led to the deaths of two Indiana motorists could be the last significant snowfall of the season, meteorologists said Wednesday.
National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Ryan said on average, the last snowfall of 1 inch in Indianapolis is March 8. The weather service expects above-average temperatures and rainfall this spring.
“That being said, we can get snowflakes into April, but the potential for a big snow diminishes as we go through the month of March,” he said.
Police blamed snow and ice for one fatal car crash along Interstate 70. Tiffany Ann Mikel, 36, of Bedford, died Tuesday evening when a semi-trailer plowed into her car after she lost control merging onto the highway in Putnam County, State Police Trooper Don Anglin said.
Justin Hinen, 21, of Columbia City in northeast Indiana, also died when his snowmobile left the road, headed across a field and crashed into a wire fence enclosing a livestock pasture.
Other weather-related accidents have been reported across the state, many of them involving cars sliding off the road with no serious injuries to the passengers.
On Wednesday, schools were delayed, roads were slick and plows were still working to clear the snow that had accumulated overnight. Northern Indiana was hit hardest by the storm, seeing up to a foot of snow. The central and north-central parts of the state got 3 to 5 inches and southern Indiana saw about 1 to 2 inches of snow.
In northwest Indiana, Valparaiso city schools delayed the start of class by two hours Wednesday after getting about a foot of snow. Some rural schools in the area closed for the day and roads were still hazardous Wednesday morning, according to a spokesman for the city police department.
“It’s not unusual to get a snow like this, even in March,” said Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas. “Last year, most of March we had 70-degree weather so it’s pretty unpredictable.”