Blizzard hits Thursday morning
At 5:30 a.m., Washington Schools Superintendent Mike Jorgensen stood looking out a window, watching only rainfall and wondering if he should cancel school. At 10 a.m. he looked out the window and, seeing horizontal snow, was happy he decided to cancel school.
The predicted severe winter storm that was to hit Washington County Wednesday night after 6 p.m. didn’t arrive until about 6:45 a.m. Thursday. Downtown Washington was quickly covered with snow. City of Washington Administrator Brent Hinson said that plow trucks began running at about 10:30 a.m., because that was the first time there had been a significant accumulation of snow.
“This is something we may have to fight for the rest of the day,” he said.
He said the city had discussed postponing the regular city council meeting held Wednesday evening when reports still showed that the storm could hit Wednesday evening.
The Washington Police Department reported not getting many calls for service after the snow began falling. Statewide, a “no travel” advisory was extended to midnight. Iowa Department of Transportation officials recommend that people having to travel bring a mobile phone and winter survival supplies.
The latest travel information is available by calling 511 or 800-288-1047.
According to the National Weather Service a blizzard warning is in effect for the area. It predicts up to 8 to 15 inches of snow could fall on the area. It also predicts high winds through the area.
All the school districts in the area were canceled before the snow even started. Jorgensen said all the district superintendents had made the decision together not to have school today. The school day will have to be made up at the end of the school year.
“I have been watching all the forecasts and I was very surprised at 5 a.m. when I got up and all we had was rain,” Jorgensen said. “It is really hard to hold school when you have a blizzard warning and travel advisories. This is the first time I can remember calling off school before we even had any snow.”
He said the decision to cancel school was not as easy to make as he thought it would be Wednesday night. He said the superintendents looked at the radar and made the determination not to hold school at about 5:30 a.m. Jorgensen said that Mid-Prairie/Keota superintendent Mark Schneider had been the first to make the decision not to hold school today.
The problem the snowstorm would cause, Jorgensen said, would have been getting the students home after school. He said snow was supposed to fall for most of the morning. Forecasts show Washington could get up to five inches. He also said that while the snow was supposed to stop after noon, the wind would continue through the rest of the day.
“Looking at it now, I would say it was a good call,” Jorgensen said. “Looking at it at 5 this morning, I had my doubts about whether we should or not.”