White out: High winds pick up overnight snow, causing visibility problems across the area

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen A group of horses at their feed almost disappear in the blowing snow Thursday morning at a farm near Dayton in southern Webster County.

Gusting wind turned overnight snowfall into a visibility challenge Thursday, causing multiple accidents within the city of Fort Dodge and throughout Webster County.

At least one crash was reported near the Duncombe curve along 200th Street, east of Fort Dodge.

Whiteout conditions were reported in that area Thursday afternoon.

At about 4:30 p.m., a person crashed their car into the side of Kenyon Road Bridge. That person was treated on scene by Fort Dodge firefighter/paramedics. The injuries appeared non-life-threatening.

After 6 p.m., a crash was reported along U.S. Highway 169, near Quality Inn, with one vehicle left in the middle of the roadway. No injuries were reported.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson Fort Dodge Public Works Department plow trucks like this one were busy on the snow covered roads throughout the city Thursday.

Webster County Sheriff Jim Stubbs said in these types of conditions, people should avoid the roads if they can, but if they absolutely have to travel, they need to take precautions.

“The biggest thing probably would be if you don’t absolutely need to go anywhere, then I would limit my travel,” he said. “If you have to be somewhere, then allow plenty of extra time in your vehicle in case you get stranded somewhere. Make sure that you have blankets and water.”

“And a full tank of gas,” Dylan Hagen, Webster County emergency management coordinator, added.

Crews with the Webster County Road Department spent most of the day Thursday making sure everything was cleared off, according to Jamie Johll, assistant Webster County engineer.

“There’s some pretty high winds out there,” he said. “We had snow throughout most of the day, but we’re keeping up with it.”

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen Geoff Astor, 17, of Fort Dodge, has some work still ahead of him Thursday morning as begins the process of showeling a driveway along North 16th Street.

The trucks went out around 1 a.m. and Johll said they would be out until 5 p.m. Thursday.

“The high winds have made it a little impractical to put sand down,” he said. “Some roads are a little slick, so that’s why we’re staying until 5.”

He added that the department wasn’t expecting any more snow accumulation, but high winds were likely going to continue to be an issue.

Plows were expected out again at 4 a.m. today.

Blowing snow was a major issue in Pocahontas County too.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson Lt. Tom Ubben, of the Fort Dodge Fire Department, center, along with two other Fort Dodge firefighter/paramedics enter an ambulance to assist an injured person after a single-vehicle crash on the Kenyon Road Bridge Thursday evening. The person driving the car apparently crashed into the side of the bridge. The injuries appeared to be non-life-threatening. The Fort Dodge Police Department was also on scene.

“We’ve got blowing snow now and zero visibility in a lot of spots,” Russ Jergens, Pocahontas County emergency management coordinator, said. “In fact, we closed the courthouse early because we wanted the employees to make it home safe.”

He referred to the snow as a “ground blizzard.”

“You just can’t see and the highways are slick from the blowing snow going across,” Jergens said, but he added that, as far as he knew, there had been no incidents on the roadways in Pocahontas County.

“I think they’ve been playing it safe,” he said. “I think the last couple of snows probably have made everybody a little bit leery of it.”

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen Drivers in open areas, including this stretch of Iowa Highway 175 near Harcourt, faced blowing snow and reduced visibility Thursday as a storm moved through the area.