(as of 7 p.m. Friday)
Source: National Weather Service of Northern Indiana
David Mueller of Fort Wayne spent a couple of hours shoveling out his driveway yet again Friday – amid forecasts of more snow throughout the weekend – and remarked that it sure felt like he had shoveled a lot of snow this month.
Mueller wasn’t imagining things.
Even before the last day of the month ended at midnight, the 30 inches of snow had set a record not only for the snowiest January but also for the snowiest month in the city, said Nick Greenawalt, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service of Northern Indiana.
The previous record was set in 1982 with 29.5 inches of snowfall in January, Greenawalt said.
Some might remember that following all that snow 32 years ago was the Flood of 1982, but hold the panic. Fort Wayne officials also remember that year and have been monitoring the situation, city spokesman Frank Suarez said.
“It’s a whole different situation from 1982, when we were basically unprotected,” Suarez said.
Since that time, the city has invested $50 million in flood control projects, including an intricate system of earthen levees and flood walls designed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Suarez said.
And while January may have seemed endless and bitterly cold – because it was – it wasn’t the coldest on record, Greenawalt said.
By Friday afternoon, the average temperature for the month was 16.6 degrees, which was 8.5 degrees below normal, he said.
With Friday’s low near 25 degrees, the final average temperature was expected to be bumped up by a degree or two, Greenawalt said.
“We’ve had well below-normal temperatures, and it’s been colder than normal with 10 days of below-zero weather,” he said.
“After we factor in Friday’s numbers (at midnight), it will probably not place in the top-10-coldest Januaries, but certainly in the top 15.”
The coldest January on record was in 1977 when the average temperature was 9.2 degrees, Greenawalt said.
And what do Hoosiers have to look forward to in February? More cold and more snow.
“Although it will be in the upper 30s Saturday, it will cool down to maybe zero degrees by Sunday evening,” Greenawalt said.
Below-normal temperatures are expected this month, but without the sustained cold spells of January, he said.
But already, rumors are flying, almost as fast as toilet paper and bread fly off supermarket shelves.
The National Weather Service is debunking rumors circulating on social media that a winter storm could dump up to 30 inches of snow on parts of Indiana next week.
The weather service’s Indianapolis bureau tweeted and posted a Facebook message Friday saying rumors that 20 to 30 inches of snow could fall on Indiana and other Midwestern states Tuesday and Wednesday “are extremely premature and improbable.”
Whatever happens, Mueller – who retired after 36 years with the Allen County Sheriff’s Department – said he has seen worse and is prepared.
His favorite snow shovel is almost as old as he is, and he’s 75. He has been using it for 50 years, and his father-in-law used it for 15 or 20 years before he gave it to him, Mueller said.
“It still works great. The handle came off one time, but I just bolted it back on,” he said.
Mueller must go inside and warm up frequently, since his toes and fingers were frostbitten in 1964 when he was in the U.S. Army and stationed in Germany.
“They still bother me when I get cold,” he said.
Many times after clearing his driveway and sidewalk, Mueller walks across Sherman Boulevard and shovels out his neighbor’s drive, as well.
“It’s a young couple with a baby, and they can’t get out,” Mueller said. “It’s kind of nice to do that.”