It’s beginning to look like Christmas —Too bad the calendar says it is the end of February

Jones Street has proved to be hard to travel this winter, with the road blowing in more than usual. This car got stuck and sat there Thursday overnight.

Jones Street has proved to be hard to travel this winter, with the road blowing in more than usual. This car got stuck and sat there Thursday overnight.

By Marcie Klomp

Another week, another snow storm. This winter has bombarded northeast Iowa with snow, cold and blizzard conditions. Local numbers have about 15 inches or more in one week’s time. Feb. 15 the area had just a few, 2-3 inches; Feb. 17 another six or so was added; then on Thursday, Feb. 20 another 6-10 inches added to the total.

Thursday’s snow was great for making snowmen and snow forts! First it was wet and heavy—just ask anyone who had to shovel! Then it was light and fluffy. That is when the wind kicked in, making blizzard conditions and forcing many local counties, including Howard, to issue a tow ban. No wrecker trucks were allowed to go out until given the word to do so until about 2 p.m. Friday said Howard County Sheriff Mike Miner.

Because of the predicted storm conditions, most schools in northeast Iowa and southeast Minnesota were closed schools on Thursday and Friday. Featherlite in Cresco even closed down its business on Friday, asking everyone to come in on Saturday as a make-up day. Many businesses in the area worked with a skeleton crew.

No wonder! Friday morning, MNDOT had 24 county, state and interstate roads closed in the southeastern part of the state, including county roads 5, 13, 14, 15, 19, 21, 22, 30, 43, 57, 62, 66, 68, 74, 83, 93, 112, 254 and 257; state highways 14, 63, 71 and 169; and interstates 35 and 90.

Early Friday, Iowa DOT’s website had just one closure, on Iowa 13, near Farmersburg. By mid-morning Interstate 35 and Hwy. 63 (because of three jack-knifed semis) were closed for a while. Local information also had Hwy. 9 closed from Davis Corners to Riceville.

Friday morning, the parking lot at Lime Springs Travel Plaza had a few truckers waiting for roads to clear. Two truckers passed the time inside talking about the weather. Robert Baker of California said, “I’m stuck here by choice. At times there was zero visibility.” He came from the south and had seen a couple big rigs along the side of road and other plowed into a snow bank.

Tim Spann of St. Paul picked up his load in Cedar Rapids. Of Highway 63 he stated, “It’s bad. The roads need to be closed.” He also had some advice for four-wheeled vehicles. “Be careful of the big rigs. Watch their back wheels.” Baker added, “We can’t stop on a dime. On a good day it could be the length of a football field. On a bad day, about three times that.”

Spann also suggested, “On a day like this (blowing snow with low visibility), use your high beams.”

Hwy. 63 was one-lane traffic into the afternoon. Miner stated from Thursday noon until Friday at 6 p.m., there were just eight wrecker calls and 21 referencing the weather. There was one roll-over, a feed ruck northwest of Elma on Saturday.

“It wasn’t as bad as two weeks ago,” he added. He said because of that storm two weeks ago, roads got plugged up quick.

Lime Springs Fire Chief Nate Schwickerath confirmed the department had gone out on a call in the middle of the night, Thursday/Friday. “Whoever called it in said there was a fire but couldn’t verify where.” The trucks went out on the Granger blacktop looking for the fire and never found it. Schwickerath said it was probably a blown transformer at the sub station.

Due to visibility issues, the grass rig went in the ditch. Luckily, Mike Bielefeld was on his way with the county maintainer. “We call the county up right away if there is a fire,” Schwickerath explained. The trucks were then able to follow the plow into town.

Thursday afternoon the town of Lime Springs was without electricity for about three-and-a-half hours because a transformer blew. Residents can blame Mayor Barb Robinson for that (just kidding), since it was right across the road from her house. It is hard to say if that was weather-related or not.

Also on Thursday, the area experienced thunder snow, with bright flashes of lightening and loud bursts of thunder.

What was weather-related was the outage in Elma. Lines had broken because they had been “galloping” due to the force of the wind.



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