Flooding forced thousands of people to head for higher ground Monday in Indiana, and the latest cold wave extended deep into the South.
Indianapolis Mayor William Hudnut declared an emergency after more than 400 homes, with an estimated 2,000 people, were evacuated along the White River. Indiana’s Emergency Management Agency estimated that 800 homes in 18 counties had been evacuated from Saturday to midday Monday.
“This is a 50-year flood. That’s what they’re calling it now,” Hudnut said. He said workers piled 10,000 sandbags along the river in one neighborhood but it did not stop the water.
Gov. Evan Bayh cut short his vacation in South Carolina to return to Indiana. The National Guard was alerted to provide possible help and to prepare shelters.
Indiana got 2 to 4 inches of rain during the weekend, in addition to melting snow.
The high water closed countless roads across the state and threatened many bridges. In Hamilton County just north of Indianapolis, four of the six bridges spanning the White River were deemed unsafe.
Forecasters warned that, even without more precipitation, Indiana would have flooding through the week. Al Shipe, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Indianapolis, said every major river in the state had high water.
In Ohio, hundreds of evacuees were allowed to return home Monday after rain ended or turned to snow and streams began receding. Weekend rains across Ohio broke 112-year-old records in at least three cities.
Meanwhile, the latest cold air mass swinging across the country dipped south into Alabama on Monday. In Huntsville, the thermometer dropped 50 degrees, from 75 on Sunday to 25 Monday, with wind-chill readings at 6 degrees.
In the Northwest, a snowstorm dumped a half-inch of new snow on the Idaho Panhandle. Wind gusted to 40 m.p.h., closing roads and delaying the opening of the Silver Mountain Ski Resort east of Coeur d’Alene. A section of U.S. 95 was closed for several hours by drifting snow.
But the storm also pushed temperatures above zero and into double digits, breaking a spell of record cold.
Nevada residents, however, got little relief from the unrelenting cold of the past week and a half.
Overnight lows in Reno dipped to 4 degrees, Fallon to minus 3, Winnemucca to 12 below and Elko to minus 16. Tonopah hit 3 above, Las Vegas 18 above and Ely minus 4.
Las Vegas set a record for the final day of the year, snapping the previous Dec. 31 low of 21 set in 1953. Elko established its eighth record low of the month, 6 degrees below the previous mark established in 1932.
In addition to the cold at Ely, 10- to 20-m.p.h. winds overnight sent the wind-chill reading to about 30 degrees below zero. That was a slight improvement over Sunday’s chill reading of about 50 below.
Temperatures should begin to show slight improvement today.
Nine cities in Utah reported record lows for the date Monday. Delta fell to a record 15 below zero.
More than 100 deaths have been blamed on weather in the past two weeks.