Bitter cold heads toward Eastern Iowa

Fresh 5 to 6 inches of snow means bitter cold temperatures overnight tonight

Published: December 22 2013 | 6:30 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 1:12 am in
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Now comes the bitter cold.

On the heels of a snowstorm that dropped between 1 to 8 inches of snow — with the Corridor receiving about 5 to 6 inches — temperatures will plummet today and Tuesday and again later this week.

“It looks like we’re going to be struggling to stay in the single digits,” said KCRG TV-9 meteorologist Charlene Malin, noting highs will be in the low-to-mid single digits. “For Tuesday morning, this is when we get hit with some really cold air.”

And that doesn’t even account for the wind chill, Malin warned.

“You’re going to be seeing wind chills in the negatives,” she said. “It’s going to feel much, much colder.”

While a significant amount of snow fell overnight and into the morning hours, Eastern Iowans managed to stay safe through the storm, according to area police departments. While some cars were stuck in the snow or slid into ditches, few major crashes were reported.

“I think people were aware this was going to be a bad storm and have stayed home,” Linn County Sheriff Sgt. Richard Yoder said.

Iowa City, Waterloo and Dubuque police departments reported similar conditions — snow-clogged streets, but few motorists willing to test fate by driving until the streets had been cleared.

Many cited the timing of the storm — a Sunday morning — as a key factor in keeping people off the roads.

“Having students gone and having it be a non-traditional work day, it makes things a lot easier,” Iowa City police Lt. Bill Campbell said. “The volume of cars being lower makes a big difference.”

That said, there were a few significant crashes around the state.

Two semis jackknifed Sunday morning on Interstate 80 — one west of Williamsburg and another at the Waukee interchange. Sgt. Scott Bright of the Iowa State Patrol said there were various reports of cars in ditches, but he did say travel would be safe on the interstate as long as the necessary precautions were taken.

“If people head out, they need to watch the speed limits and try to maintain control of their vehicle,” Bright said. “There’s a reason why they lost control. All collisions are preventable ... if they just take their time and watch their speeds, I don’t think they’ll have a problem.”

Public works officials in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City said plow crews hit the streets overnight, focusing on arterial streets before moving into residential areas later Sunday morning. Snow emergencies were called in the communities, though Cedar Rapids’ expired last night and Iowa City’s begins at 8 a.m. today and will go until Christmas Eve.

Iowa City Public Works director Rick Fosse said crews would be working through the night in the downtown area where a snow removal operation will take place. Because the snow cannot be pushed into parking stalls and sidewalks, workers will have to blow the snow into dump trucks and move it out of downtown.

Cedar Rapids Public Works Maintenance manager Craig Hanson also advised that this snow fall is heavier than previous storms this year and shoveling will be more difficult. He also warned that some sidewalks were not adequately treated for the ice that fell Friday and still could be slippery beneath the snow.

Hanson also advised residents not to blow snow back into the street — a violation of city code — or into a pile at the base of their driveway.

“If you blow that back into the road, you’ll just cause bumps,” he said. “It’s going to freeze on hard. It’s going to be really hard.”

Malin said wind chills in the negative teens brings extra concerns about frostbite and hypothermia. Anyone outdoors should bundle up and try to cover any exposed skin. The same goes for pets.

“You’re cold, your pets are probably cold, too,” she said.

The silver lining to this frigid forecast is Christmas Day, which brings a chance of snow and a high near 23. The temperature is expected to drop again Thursday and Friday.

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