A Blizzard Warning continues across eastern Iowa, with strong winds, whiteout conditions, black ice and dangerous wind chills.
Rod Donovan is a forecaster with the National Weather Service.
Donovan says winds of 40 to 50 miles per hour have been common.
And he says those wind chills will stay below zero through the holiday weekend.
Iowa State Patrol Trooper Jon Stickney of Manchester says they are highly recommending that people do not venture out at least until the brunt of the storm passes.
Stickney says if you need to travel, make sure your vehicle is stocked with survival gear in case you become stranded – survival gear would include blankets, water, charged cell phones, jumper cables and food. He says the Iowa State Patrol will do everything they can to rescue those who get stranded, but it may take time depending on the conditions.
Since the winter storm began, the Iowa State Patrol has assisted nearly seven hundred motorists and covered nearly three hundred crashes. So far, more than two dozen people have been injured in crashes during this storm across the state.
Delaware County Sheriff John LeClere is joining the State Patrol in recommending that drivers avoid travel until conditions improve. But if you must travel, he says you should let someone know what your route will be and when you’re expecting to arrive there. Other travel tips from Sheriff LeClere include turning on your headlights due to the reduced visibility, check your vehicle for proper tire inflation and any mechanical issues that might cause the vehicle to stall, wear weather-appropriate clothing and footwear, and carry extra survival supplies in your vehicle, including a shovel and a good flashlight.
The Delaware County Sheriff’s Office has had a couple calls of vehicles in the ditch or stuck in a snow drift, as well as a couple calls regarding semis that broke down. LeClere says traffic numbers are pretty light, as it looks like many motorists are playing it safe for now.
Delaware County Emergency Management Coordinator Mandy Bieber says right now, roads are passable, but visibility is low. She says Delaware County has been seeing wind gusts as high as 60 mph on their gauges. Plans are in place to open shelters in Delaware County in case of widespread power outages, but we’re not seeing that at this time. Bieber says some other counties are seeing minimal power outages, but nothing in Delaware County right now. She echoes everyone else – if you don’t absolutely need to go out, stay put where you are.
Snow plows and trucks are being pulled from county roads in Delaware County until Saturday morning. County Engineer Rafe Koopman says they took snowplows off the roads at 3:30 pm and trucks off at 5 pm. He is recommending no travel on county roads tonight due to drifting.
Craig Bargfrede, the Iowa DOT’s winter operations administrator, says more than a third of Iowa counties have issued towing bans, including Linn, Clayton and Fayette counties.
In addition to blowing snow, icy conditions are causing wrecks. Bargfrede says it’s too cold to treat the roads with salt.
Bargfrede says it will be a few more days before temperatures warm up enough for salt to be effective in treating ice.
The Blizzard Warning runs through 6 am Saturday. The National Weather Service says conditions should start to improve heading into Saturday afternoon and Saturday night, though travel may be difficult in some areas through Christmas Day on Sunday. Another one to three inches of snow is possible Sunday night into Monday morning, with another larger system of rain and snow forecasted to move in later next week heading into New Year’s Eve.
partial story contribution courtesy of Radio Iowa; photo of southern Delaware County/northern Linn County gravel roads courtesy of Tiffany Woods