×

Winter storm to hit Central Iowa today

Much of Iowa will be hit with its first major winter storm of the season today and tomorrow.

The National Weather Service in Des Moines has issued a winter storm warning to go into effect at 9 a.m. today and will run until at least 6 p.m. Saturday.

The NWS predicts up to 6 inches of snow in the north central Iowa region, with other outlets predicting anywhere from five to eight inches of snow, as well as some ice accumulation.

The Iowa State Patrol works with the Iowa Department of Transportation watching the weather forecast and preparing for storms.

“In Iowa, things kind of change hour-by-hour, so we just monitor it constantly,” said Lt. Mark Miller, of the Iowa State Patrol District 7.

Miller said the ISP is looking at having troopers on standby in case they need to call in extra support over the weekend, or if troopers on duty can take a longer shift.

While public safety personnel and law enforcement generally prefer citizens stay home and off the roads during storms like the one expected this weekend, Miller said that if someone thinks they absolutely have to drive somewhere, they need to look at the risk versus the reward if they do.

“Where are you trying to get to and what are you going to accomplish by getting there?” he said. “Versus the risk to your life and your personal safety or your family’s safety. So I wouldn’t go unless you need to go somewhere. If it’s something you can put off, put it off.”

Miller said that if a person does decide they need to drive during the storm, they need to remember to be patient and expect delays, so they should give themselves extra time. He also advised driving only during daylight and to have a detour or alternative route planned out in case of an incident like a jackknifed semi blocking the roadway for an extended period of time.

“And don’t be afraid if you start out on your journey to turn around if you think it’s too bad,” Miller added.

Drive slow and increase following distance, Miller also advises drivers.

“When you get icy conditions out, it’s going to take you longer to stop and then you come across a problem,” he said. “Set yourself up for success: Slow down and give yourself a little bit of following time.”

Miller said that on highways during winter weather, the cars that slow down to 35 or 40 miles per hour, or even less, “usually don’t end up in the ditch.”

“It’s usually the cars that think they can still go the speed limit because they have all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive — they’re the ones you usually find in the ditches later,” he said.

Miller also warns against using cruise control in slick road conditions.

Drivers should prepare for the possibility they may end up in the ditch or off the road when driving during a heavy snow storm, the lieutenant said. Help may not be able to arrive right away, so he recommends keeping blankets or sleeping bags for warmth in the vehicle, as well as flashlights, fully-charged cell phones, water and food.

“Pay attention to where you are at all times, so if you do end up in the ditch, you have an idea of your location when you call 911,” Miller said.

Miller also suggests keeping a shovel in the vehicle, just in case.

“Sometimes you can dig yourself out of a problem,” he said.

In addition to the several inches of snow predicted for Friday and Saturday, the National Weather Service also expects freezing rain in the late afternoon and into the evening on Friday, producing up to a 10th of an inch of ice, another hazard to drivers.

“Keep your windshields clear,” Miller warned.

Ice can obscure visibility when driving.

“It’s OK to pull over every once in a while to clear your windshield, but don’t do it on an interstate system or a busy highway — try to find an exit ramp or something off the main portion to clear those windshields if you have to,” he said.

Due to the weather, classes at Fort Dodge public and parochial schools will be closed today.

Winter storm warning in effect

Current weather forecasts indicate a winter storm warning. Accumulations of up to 2 inches or more of snow is possible through Saturday.

Because weather can change abruptly, residents are encouraged to stay tuned to local weather forecasts.

Due to the impending weather warning, residents are reminded that a parking prohibition will automatically go into effect on all Residential Emergency Snow Routes when there has been an accumulation of 2 inches or more of snow.

The parking prohibition will be in effect until 24 hours after the snow stops falling.

To view a map of all Emergency Snow Routes, please visit the city’s webpage at https://www.fortdodgeiowa.org/.

For those people not on snow routes, please park your car off the street if possible as it will be easier to plow all streets. You may park across a sidewalk or on the parking right-of-way until the snow has been cleared. Residents are encouraged to use caution when driving.

Winter storm may cause Saturday papers to be delayed

An impending winter storm that could bring up to 8 inches of snow and high wind gusts may result in some subscribers to The Messenger getting their newspapers late on Saturday.

The Messenger has an extremely dedicated group of carriers, but a storm like what is predicted will slow even them down. We want our carriers to take their time and be safe.

There is a way that print subscribers can get all the news before their paper is delivered. It is called All Access and enables subscribers to read the paper on their computers or phones.

For instructions on how to sign up for All Access, please see page 8A of today’s edition of the paper.