Spring surprise

Region gets slammed with thunderstorms and unseasonal snow

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Mother Nature seems to disagree with the “Spring Has Sprung” sentiment at the Fort Dodge Earl May Garden Center Saturday afternoon. Not only did she blanket the racks that would usually be full of spring flowers with snow, she also blew some of the letters off the sign.

Mother Nature might want to take a break, go home, and evaluate just exactly what season it’s supposed to be before she goes out to play again.

A late season snow storm hit the area Saturday and continued to dump snow and create hazardous travel conditions as winds blew the snow around in rural areas greatly reducing visibility and depositing blown snow on roads.

The snow and ice caused a couple of semitrailers to jack-knife on Interstate 35 in the southeastern corner of Wright County, sending one driver to the hospital, according to Jim Lester, the county’s emergency management coordinator.

He said the crash happened at about 10 a.m.

Lester said one of the truck drivers was taken to a hospital with minor injuries.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
A motorist makes their way north along Paragon Avenue Saturday afternoon passing through the accumulated slush at 25th Avenue North.

The southbound lanes of the highway near the crash were closed for about two hours, he said.

Vehicles were reported in roadside ditches elsewhere in the county, he added.

On the far western side of Fort Dodge, a vehicle slid off a road and landed in a ditch filled with about 3 feet of water. Police Lt. Dennis Quinn said that happened along Old Highway 20, west of U.S. Highway 169. He said no one was hurt and the people in the vehicle had already called for a truck to pull them out when a police officer contacted them.

Quinn said city police handled just two traffic accident reports by late afternoon Saturday.

A brief power outage apparently caused by the storm affected part of Fort Dodge Saturday afternoon. MidAmerican Energy Co. reported on its website that 2,300 customers were impacted.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Blowing snow gives a hazy effect from a few feet away to this image of snow and slush in the ditch along Paragon Avenue north of Fort Dodge Saturday afternoon.

The outage shut down the traffic lights at the intersections of Fifth Avenue South and 12th Street and Fifth Avenue South and 15th Street, according to Quinn. It also turned off the traffic lights along 15th Street at its intersections with First Avenue South, Central Avenue, Second Avenue North, Sixth Avenue North and Seventh Avenue North, he said.

A city public works employee brought out some portable stop signs to control traffic at those intersections, but power was restored before any of them were set up.

Two city snowplows began working on the streets at 8 a.m. Saturday, and another six trucks were sent out later in the day.

”They did a good job keeping up with the roads for as fast as it was coming down,” Quinn said.

The storm shut down Fort Dodge Regional Airport Saturday.

Air Choice One, the lone airline serving Fort Dodge, announced Friday that it canceled all Saturday flights except one scheduled for Saturday evening. That evening flight was later canceled as well.

Airport crews spent Saturday clearing away snow, and Rhonda Chambers, the director of aviation, said the facility would be open in time for an Air Choice One flight expected to arrive at 8 a.m. today.

The National Weather Service reported 3 inches of snow near Fort Dodge.

Lester said Wright County received 4 to 5 inches of snow.

The National Weather Service reported 4 1/2 to 5 inches of snow in Kossuth County.

The snow storm followed a night of rain, hail and winds Friday.

The National Weather Service is calling for a 50 percent chance of snow today in the Fort Dodge area, with less than 1 inch of accumulation expected.

So how off is Mother Nature?

A sign at the Earl May Garden Center, 168 S. 25th St., announced proudly that “Spring has Sprung.”

It overlooked employees there as they unloaded spring flowers earlier in the week.

On Saturday, it overlooked snow-covered benches where all the flowers, safely inside in a warm greenhouse, should be. The sign itself offered evidence that Mother Nature should not be allowed to perform any sort of spell checking functions, now reads “Spring .. s Spr….g.”