Severe storms causing outages; storm watch continues

Updated 9:05 p.m.

The severe thunderstorms that came through the area this afternoon have left thousands without power in south-central Indiana.

The National Weather Service issued a series of severe thunderstorm warnings just before 4 p.m., including a tornado warning for parts of Shelby and Rush counties, which expired at 4:30 p.m.  Residents across the region are reporting trees down and up to 70 mph winds.

The Columbus Fire Department is reporting a high volume of calls for service, many related to powerlines down on roadways or on private property. For your safety, firefighters urge you to stay away from any downed powerlines. A downed powerline may still be energized and could cause electrocution.

INDOT says that Interstate 65 was closed north of Columbus due to an overturned semi but that has one lane reopened.

Columbus police say that they are directing traffic at several locations where the power is out and they have responded to several weather related calls including crashes and downed trees.

The Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Office is asking area motorists to drive with caution this evening and to stay home if you can. The sheriff’s department also warns that if a traffic light is out or flashing red it needs to be treated as a stop sign.

According to the sheriff’s department, the Taylorsville area was hit especially hard. The department reports that it has called in several deputies  to handle the increased call volume and they are working  through the calls for service and request patience from the public.

As of 9 p.m., Duke Energy was reporting about 12,000 customers without power in the Columbus area, with another 700 in the Nashville area and 2,000 in Bloomington. Bartholomew County REMC is reporting 2,093 without power and Jackson County REMC is reporting about 680 customers without power, with most in the Freetown area. South-Central Indian REMC is reporting 3,025 customers without power in Brown County.

The National Weather Service reports that the storms have mostly moved out of central Indiana. You can expect showers and thunderstorms this evening into Sunday morning.

Photos courtesy of Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department