(Above) ISP Officer Mindy Coe walks to close the gates on I-35.
Weekend blizzard paralyzes area
February snowfall reaches 28.6 inches
According to State Climatologist of Iowa Justin Glisan, our weekend storm was a record-setter.
Month-to-date accumulation is at 28.6 inches, which now ranks as the highest February accumulation on record for the Mason City Municipal Airport. (The airport is the closest weather station to Clear Lake/Ventura). This breaks the 22.7 inch total from 1962.
The current December through February snowfall total is 47.1 inches, which is the third highest accumulation behind 2011 (47.2 inches) and 1971 (48.0 inches). The station’s period of record is Jan. 1, 1948 to present day.
by Marianne Gasaway and Michelle Watson
Just under a foot of snow and winds gusting 40-50 mph Sunday brought Clear Lake— and most of Iowa, to a standstill over the weekend.
The weather event started with light rain Saturday afternoon, which transformed to freezing rain and eventually snow by that evening. A good share of the snowfall occurred in the early morning hours Sunday, followed by the wind.
A tow ban was placed into effect about 11 p.m. Saturday, with the Cerro Gordo County Sheriff’s Office receiving multiple calls for vehicles in the ditches throughout the county. Sheriff’s deputies were unable to reach all vehicles stuck at that time. Under the tow ban deputies only respond to medical emergencies.
By Sunday morning county plows were ordered back to the sheds.
Interstate 35 was closed in north-central Iowa from Ames to the Minnesota border, and continuing to Owatonna, Minn., due to continued whiteout conditions. A majority of the other highways in north-central Iowa were listed as impassable.
According to the Iowa State Patrol, from midnight on Friday through mid-morning Monday, the Iowa State Patrol responded to 145 crashes and helped more than a thousand stranded motorists.
Clear Lake Police Chief Pete Roth called the nine-inches of snow, high winds, major drifts and whiteout conditions “a recipe for disaster.”
“Plows and police vehicles got stuck and needed assistance,” he said. “However, from a public safety standpoint, I thought overall the past two days went reasonably well.”
Roth said many people heeded warnings advising against travel.
“I cannot recall anyone being injured as a direct result of the blizzard. Even with the extreme whiteout conditions, the department only responded to two vehicle crashes,” said Roth. “While we didn’t have to rescue stranded motorists, like the Sheriff’s Office and ISP, we did have our share of disabled vehicles (over 30). We towed and moved around nine vehicles off Highways 18 and 122. The department responded to 94 calls for service during the two-day period (in contrast to 43 the previous weekend).”
Roth noted his department made a concerted, consistent effort to utilize its social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) to present as much information and pictures as were available and relevant.
“I was surprised to see how many people viewed our blizzard posts. One Facebook post hadTo read more of this article, please login or sign up for our E-Edition