Winds whip up blizzard conditions around area

Travel around Clear Lake-- and the Midwest in general, came to a screeching halt Sunday, as strong winds whipped up blizzard conditions.  “It was nasty out-- one of the worst,” said Chris Nessa, an owner of Tony’s Tire Service Inc. in Clear Lake.  Nessa said he had four semi 

wreckers, two car wreckers and two service trucks out Monday still working to clear stuck and stalled vehicles from the roads.

The worst of the weekend weather arrived mid-afternoon Sunday, as winds steadily increased, sending the newly fallen inch of snow swirling in the air.  Winds were generally sustained at 35 to 40 mph., with gusts topping 50 mph.

The Iowa Department of Transportation warned against any travel Sunday and even pulled snowplows off the roads in some areas due to dangerous white out conditions.

“When you can’t see the end of the hood of your semi, you know it’s bad out.  And there were still drivers out there who couldn’t see beyond the hoods of their vehicles,” said Nessa.  “People are not being smart enough to slow down and look ahead.”

A crew from Tony’s was called to a severe accident reported about 4:30 p.m. Sunday.  Details have not yet been released by the Iowa State Patrol about the collision involving a semi, car and pick-up truck.  Clear Lake police, ambulance and Clear Lake and Ventura firefighters assisted the ISP at the scene.  

Nessa noted that in addition to the snowy, windy weather his business is being kept even more busy by the brutally cold temperatures. “We always have the snow to deal with, but with the cold we have had many, many trucks jelling up.  We’re out trying to help them, too.”

State Climatologist Harry Hillaker backed up Nessa’s suspicions that this has been an extremely cold winter.  Over the last four months, the statewide average temperature has been 30.1 degrees, making it the ninth coldest October through January period in the past 121 years, according to Hillaker.  The most recent winter when it was this cold, for this long, was in 2000-2001, when the daily statewide average was an even 30 degrees. The coldest-ever January in Iowa occurred in 1912, when the statewide average temperature was 4 degrees.

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