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Snow wonder

First major storm of the season hits the area

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
A city of Fort Dodge loader is driven by an employee down First Avenue North Friday to clear snow.

Iowans wondering where all the snow was so far this winter found out on Friday.

The white stuff showed up in bunches with as much as 9 inches of snowfall reported in some areas throughout north central Iowa.

The snow first arrived in Fort Dodge early Friday morning. After a bit of a lull in the late morning, the second round hit in the afternoon. Consistent snowfall and strong winds took hold in the evening.

Fortunately, no serious injuries were reported in the area during the day.

“The snow has been pretty light but the weather is supposed to pick up,” Webster County Sheriff Luke Fleener said in the afternoon. “So far we have been lucky. Most people are staying home.”

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
A tiny snowman built by a Harbor Freight Tools employee stands with a screwdriver outside of the Fort Dodge store on Friday. Harbor Freight will open to the public on Jan. 18.

Fleener did report that two trucks slid in the ditch as the roads started to deteriorate.

He was hopeful that drivers would remain cautious throughout the evening, but worried about the worsening conditions.

“As it gets dark, that’s when it gets more dangerous,” Fleener said. “I would encourage everyone to stay home. Once they get there, stay where they are at.”

Area schools were closed Friday due to the weather.

In Humboldt County, a few cars slid into ditches. There was one minor crash, dispatch reported.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Maria Weydert, of Fort Dodge, uses a broom to remove snow from her daughter's car on Friday.

Trooper Paul Gardner with Iowa State Patrol District 7 said he was thankful they didn’t have too much excitement.

“We had some minor fender benders around the Fort Dodge area. We had one that spun out and crashed west of Fort Dodge on Old Highway 20. No one was hurt in that one,” he said. “We also had a crash on (Iowa) Highway 17 that the Hamilton County Sheriff’s office covered. Other than that, we just had some semis that have gone in the ditch or jackknifed along I-35 but so far, in the Fort Dodge area, we’ve been pretty fortunate that we haven’t had too much to deal with.”

No major accidents were reported in Calhoun County and Wright County.

Brett Daniel, Fort Dodge Public Works director, had his crews out maintaining the emergency routes.

“So far, so good,” he said in the afternoon. “We got that lull late this morning where we could catch up, but it looks like predictions were right. I still expect between 5 and 7 more inches. We stuck with the plan and have trucks out working the emergency snow routes and we will stay the course.”

Webster County Engineer, Jamie Johll said the weather was “Nothing we can’t handle. I have 38 highly skilled maintenance staff and a Board of Supervisors that provides me enough funding for the equipment, materials, and manpower to provide a high level of service to the public.”

Johll said the county has 31 tandem axle snow plows. All are equipped with front plow, side plow, and rear spreader. Along with plowing to keep the roads safe, they spread a mix of washed sand and rock salt.

Maria Weydert, of Fort Dodge, was prepared for the weather.

She used a broom to clean off her daughter’s car downtown.

The broom proved to be quite effective.

“I am an Iowan,” she said.

Although she’s used to the snow, Weydert said she’d rather be in Florida.

“Snow would have been nice around Christmas,” she said. “But we didn’t get that.”

Throughout the state, the Iowa State Patrol covered 32 crashes from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday. No fatalities were reported

In terms of snowfall, Bode had the highest reading with 9 inches as of 5:50 p.m. Algona had 7 inches as of 3:30 p.m. Figures for Fort Dodge weren’t available as of press time.

The wind started to pick up in the evening with gusts of 39 mph reported in Webster City.

Roger Vachalek, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Des Moines, said travel could be difficult this morning.

“The snow will be over but winds will still be brisk until about 7 a.m and should improve after that,” he said. “It could be sloppy. I would caution people to drive carefully.”

Vachalek said wind gusts over 20 mph are likely in Fort Dodge through 8 a.m.

“It should get better after that, but could take some time for road crews to get out there and clean things up a bit.”

The high for today is 14. The temperature will then drop to about -7 at night.

Sunday will warm up to the low 30s.

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