Snow after 60
Less than 24 hours after unseasonably high 60 degree temperatures, Washington County was blanketed with snow and ice from a winter storm front with heavy snow and high winds that has been moving through the Midwest.
Washington County schools were closed this morning. A snow emergency was declared in the City of Wellman for last night and today. The Iowa Department of Transportation’s road weather information system shows sustained winds of between 15 and 25 mph, and gusts of up to 35 mph. Blowing snow is causing whiteout conditions in many areas.
Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson reported that city plow crews had been out since 5 a.m. today cleaning up the layer of snow that had accumulated on the streets.
“There was not an enormous accumulation,” Hinson said. “I was out driving around and I saw five or six snowplows out.”
Hinson said in town there is a layer of ice under the snow, but it is not the hard ice that causes slick roads. He expects city crews will have the roads cleared by the end of the day.
“The town will look pretty good by the end of the day,” he said.
Washington County Engineer Jacob Thorius said this morning that county plow trucks started working at about 6:30 a.m. and that it has been a struggle because of blowing snow covering plowed roadways. He said that the crews plan to have the paved roads all plowed by the end of the day, but will have to wait before plowing gravel roads.
“The gravel roads are too soft from the rain,” he said. “We are going to have to wait a few days for them to freeze before we can plow them and not tear the roads up.”
Thorius said that the snow began in the northwestern part of the county about 4:30 a.m. and hit Washington around 5 a.m. He believes the north and west sections of the county had received more snow.
With the blowing snow, Thorius said that he doesn’t expect the roads to stay clear, but said his crews would continue to work through the end of the day. He anticipates crews will be out tomorrow continuing the cleanup.
“We will have the roads plowed once by the end of the day,” he said. “They will be in much better shape. They won’t be clear by any means, but we will continue to work to improve the conditions.”
Washington County Sheriff Jerry Dunbar reported this morning that many of his deputies hadn’t been into the office yet because so many had been called to assist with vehicles that had slid off the roadway.
“I think there are spots where the wind has blown snow over ice,” Dunbar said. With ice under the snow, some places can be slick.”
While he hasn’t heard a report of how many accidents have been caused by the weather, Dunbar said that there are more than there were during the first snowstorm of the year.
Dunbar said when he was coming into the sheriff’s office at 6:30 a.m., the weather was already causing traffic to slow down considerably along the Wayland Road.
“The traffic was going about 5 mph and they were still sliding,” he said.
He recommends people who have to travel listen to news broadcasts before leaving home to determine where bad areas are. He also recommends people keep sand and a shovel in their vehicles and to drive slowly.