Slip slidin’ away

Though not as severe as predicted, storm caused a few headaches

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
A jackknifed semi truck blocks both lanes of South Eighth Street near Kenyon Road Thursday afternoon. It was one of just a handful of accidents the Fort Dodge Police Department responded to Thursday afternoon following snow.

What was predicted as a major storm that would dump lots of snow ended up leaving only a few inches in Fort Dodge and the surrounding areas Thursday.

Meteorologist Rod Donavon, with the National Weather Service in Des Moines, said there were a couple reasons why the storm ended up not being as strong as predicted.

One reason was because “the snow band didn’t materialize quite as strong as we expected.”

He attributed that to precipitation to the east of Iowa that “robbed” the system of moisture that went into the state.

“In addition, it was a very narrow band, which we were aware of,” Donavon added. “Any little shift would cause drastic shifts in the snow amount.”

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Terrance Newsome, of Fort Dodge, removes snow from the sidewalk near the intersection of Sixth Avenue North and Forest Avenue.

Although snow totals from Fort Dodge hadn’t been reported, Donavon said a spotter in Webster City reported 2 inches of snow early Thursday afternoon. He believed that amount was probably what other parts of north central Iowa received as well.

In Fort Dodge, there were very few problems associated with the weather.

Lt. Dennis Mernka, of the Fort Dodge Police Department, praised the efforts of Fort Dodge Public Works Department in keeping the streets clear.

“They were out all night,” Mernka said.

He attributed the low number of crashes to the hard work of the snowplow drivers.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Dayton Police Chief Nick Dunbar patrols about a mile west of Dayton Thursday afternoon in the near blizzard conditions outside of town.

“Up until an hour ago we didn’t have any accidents,” Mernka said Thursday afternoon. “We’ve had two so far.”

One other accident reported later Thursday was a semi that jackknifed on South Eighth Street, near Kenyon Road. Nobody was hurt, but the truck and trailer were completely blocking the northbound lane and partially blocking the southbound lane.

Very few accidents were also reported outside of Fort Dodge, according to Trooper Blaine Kamp, of the Iowa State Patrol.

He attributed that to the fact that there were few people on the roadways Thursday.

“A few of us were commenting this morning, with schools canceling classes…there hasn’t been that much traffic on the highway, and that’s made it a lot easier,” Kamp said. “For the most part, they’ve heeded the advisories and the warnings and just kind of kept it at cautious speeds.”

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Blowing and drifting snow along Iowa Highway 175 just west of Dayton Thursday afternoon reduced visibility greatly.

Webster County Sheriff Jim Stubbs said the biggest issue in the county was the blowing snow, which caused visibility issues.

He advised that people take precautions while driving.

“If you need to travel, then allow extra time, because obviously you’re not going to be able to get there in the allotted time like you are on a summer day,” he said. “It’s going to take more time. Be prepared. If your car breaks down, you want to be able to keep warm.”

Stubbs added those traveling should let people know where they’re going, when they’re going there and to let them know when they arrive.

“Keep them apprised of where you’re at,” Stubbs said.

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Trenton Larsen, of Fort Dodge, throws some snow off of a shovel on Eighth Avenue North Thursday.

Webster County Engineer Randy Will said the county road crews were expected to be at work clearing the roads until 5 p.m. Thursday.

“We’ve been checking all the roads and running them down for any drifts and so forth,” he said. “The wind doesn’t sound like it’s going to subside until late in the everning.”

But he said the majority of the roads were in decent shape.

“Overall, we believe the road conditions are fairly decent, considering what could have happened and what transpired,” he said.

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Mark Weyant, of Fort Dodge, uses a snow blower to remove snow from his driveway near the intersection of North 22nd Street and Eighth Avenue North Thursday.