Less than 24 hours after a winter storm blanketed Washington County with snow and ice, making many roads impassable, the sun was out and people were working to clean the streets and the sidewalks.
Schools in the area remained closed today, due to treacherous road conditions making travel unadvisable. For most, Friday was the last day before winter break.
In the City of Washington, administrator Brent Hinson said that plow trucks had begun working about 10:30 a.m. Thursday and continued through the night. The trucks remained plowing Friday morning.
“It ended up being a pretty normal post-snowstorm cleanup,” Hinson said. “I think the worst issues were reserved for out in the county.”
Washington County Engineer Jacob Thorius said today that plow trucks had begun working to plow the 120 miles of paved county roads yesterday morning, but stopped when whiteout conditions and blowing snow had made the job dangerous. He said the crews resumed in the afternoon when the snow had died off. He said as quickly as crews were getting the snow cleared off the roads, they were being covered again.
“It was a slow day and not very productive,” Thorius said. “It was hard keeping up with the wind.”
County crews worked until dark. Thorius said the county doesn’t have the manpower to run continuously and that the road conditions were “borderline dangerous.” The crews continued plowing early this morning. Thorius said the crews hope the roads will be passable today, but said there will still be patches of snow and ice on the roadways. Plows will begin working on the county’s gravel roads today and Thorius hopes they will be plowed by tomorrow.
Few problems were reported in the city.
Neither Hinson nor Thorius said that he had heard of any power outages in the county. This morning Alliant Energy reported that the storm left over 10,000 Iowans without power yesterday.
Hinson said that during the storm a water main at North Second Avenue and Fifth Street, by the underpass, had broken. He said it took crews about four hours to replace 14 feet of 100-year-old cast iron pipe.
Washington Police Chief Greg Goodman said that there were not many problems during the storm. He said that people were out, but that everyone seemed to have gotten along fine. He said the roads were slick, but there were not many snow piles in town.
Washington County Sheriff Jerry Dunbar said that in the county, the high winds resulted in whiteout conditions for most of the day. He believes most people stayed off the roadways during the storm. The problem came, he said, as the sun was going down and people were driving home from work. He said some people had gotten their cars stuck in the roadway.
Dunbar said there had been discussion of closing Highway 218 Thursday night, but the highway had remained open. He said there was a tow ban in place Thursday night, but it was lifted this morning.