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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Winter storm brings more snow and wind to Iowa

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

This gravel road near Cherokee was typical of Monday road conditions all over the state. Photo by Mike Leckband.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Another winter storm hit Iowa on Monday with snow and high winds, creating blizzard conditions and dicey traveling for winter-weary residents.

"There were parts where you couldn't see the hood of your car," said Chuck Cleveland, a dispatcher with the sheriff's office in Guthrie County in west central Iowa.

Cleveland estimated about 2 inches of fresh snow from the latest storm, but it was the wind that causing big problems.

"It's nasty out here," he said.

It was the latest storm in what has been a difficult winter, with Iowa previously enduring three major snowstorms and an ice storm.

Most of western Iowa from the Minnesota border into central Iowa was under a blizzard warning into late Monday.

The National Weather Service said snowfall ranged from 1 to 4 inches, but winds were blowing up to 35 mph, with gusts near 45 mph.

At midday Monday, the Iowa State Patrol recommended no travel on a 100-mile stretch of Interstate 35 from the Missouri border to Story City and another 35-mile section north of Ames. Travel also wasn't advised along 80 miles of Interstate 80 in central Iowa from Dexter to Grinnell east of Des Moines and on Interstate 29 in western Iowa near Sloan.

Officials reported a chain-reaction accident on I-29 around 9 a.m. in Monona County that involved two tractor-trailer rigs, three cars and a state patrol car. At least one person was injured.

In northwest Iowa, several roads were closed because of accidents. Snowplows were pulled off some roadways in north central Iowa because of poor visibility and safety issues.

"We're just having a lot of people put their car in the ditch, plus the regular stuff - fender benders here and there" said Jessica Lown, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

Lown said if someone ends up in the ditch, they need to stay in their car and wait for help.

"Don't ever get out and walk along I-80," she said.

In northern Iowa over the weekend, an elderly Minnesota man died after leaving his car.

Kenneth Reed, 86, of Elmore, Minn., was driving to his farm late Saturday when his car got stuck in a snowdrift, the Kossuth County sheriff's office said. He apparently tried to get his vehicle out, then left his car and started walking.

A motorist found his body in a ditch Sunday morning about a mile from his farm, the sheriff's office said.

Iowa is still trying to recover from last week's ice storm that left thousands without electricity. Iowa's two largest utilities companies said most power had been restored.

Rain fell Friday, and temperatures rose into the 40's on Saturday, thawing a lot of ice on power lines and trees.

MidAmerican Energy expected to have all power lines repaired Monday. Alliant Energy restored power to all its customers Saturday afternoon.

About 5,400 rural electric customers were still without power on Monday, said Allan Urlis, spokesman for the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives.

Most were in western and central Iowa.

Six counties have been included in an ice storm emergency proclamation. Gov. Chet Culver on Sunday added Calhoun County to the list, which also includes Audubon, Carroll, Cass, Crawford and Sac counties.

Allan Urliss, spokesman for MidAmerican, said Monday's storm was actually helping crews restore power. When it thawed, gravel roads were turned to mud.

"Now that we have some refreezing, that helps with the power restoration because you're not going to have the sloppy, muddy conditions that you have trying to get to a pole when you have all that thawing going on," he said.

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