After weekend blizzard, Interstate 35 fully reopened in time for Monday evening's rush hour
Northbound Interstate Highway 35 north of Ames has reopened after blizzard conditions closed the roadway, officials said.
The interstate's southbound lanes were reopened at noon, the Department of Transportation said. The northbound lanes were reopened in time for rush hour traffic, at 5 p.m.
I-35 was initially closed Sunday morning in both directions between Ames and the Minnesota border because of drifting snow and limited visibility, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation. The gate system was activated at the U.S. 30/I-35 interchange, forcing vehicles to exit at U.S. 30.
The Iowa DOT warned against traveling on roads north or west of Des Moines through Monday morning as "conditions can be life-threatening," according to a news release.
It's been about five years since so much of the interstate was closed, said Craig Bargfrede, winter operations administration for the DOT. Numerous other highways and main roads were also closed or obstructed Sunday because of the weather.
"In those conditions, we don't close those roads, the roads basically close themselves," Bargfrede said.
About 600 of the state's 900 plows were on the roads Sunday, Bargfrede said.
"Visibility is so poor in open areas that our snow plow drivers can barely see the front of their plows, making plowing conditions very risky," Keith Morgan, Story County's emergency management coordinator, said in a news release Sunday morning.
Between 9 p.m. Saturday and 11:30 a.m. Sunday, more than 100 cars ended up in the ditch between Des Moines and Ames, Iowa State Patrol spokesman Nathan Ludwig estimated.
"Just expect that if you go in the ditch, your car is going to be there for a while," Ludwig said, adding that anyone risking unnecessary travel is putting rescue crews in harm's way.
A firetruck was hit Sunday morning between Ames and Des Moines, Ludwig said, and a number of state patrol were almost hit by cars going too fast for the poor conditions.
Though some sections of the road may look clear, there is also a strong potential for dangerous ice, Ludwig said. But the biggest problem so far has been visibility. Road conditions may look fine at first, but they can quickly deteriorate as winds pick up.
Des Moines remains in a winter weather advisory through 6 p.m. Sunday, according to the National Weather Service, which warned of northwest winds up to 50 miles per hour contributing to blizzard conditions as gusts whip fresh snowfall across the state.
Wright County officials on Sunday afternoon declared a State of Emergency due to significant blowing and drifting snow, according to a news release. More than 18 stranded people were rescued in the county before 11 a.m. Sunday, said county officials who have since pulled all plows off the road until 5 a.m. Monday.
Temperatures are expected to drop Monday in Des Moines with the chance for more snow throughout the week.
The beginning of the work week will see a high of 13 degrees.
Be sure to bundle up for any Monday morning commutes as the wind chill may dip down to -10, according to the National Weather Service.
Though the expected high temperatures bump up to the low 20s beginning Tuesday, there is also a chance of snow Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, meterologists predict.
Additional closed and blocked roads as of 10:30 a.m., according to IDOT, include:
- IA 17 between IA 210 near Madrid and County Road E52 near Luther, blocked because of the storm.
- US 65 between County Road E29 near the Colo area and County Road E18 near Zearing, blocked because of the storm.
- IA 15 between County Road C15 and County Roads C20 and P19 near Rolfe area, blocked because of a crash.
- US 18 between IA 24 and the Minnesota border, blocked because of the storm.
- US 63 between US 18, IA 24 at New Hampton and the Minnesota Border near Chester, blocked because of storm.
- IA 9 between US 65 and County Road S56 near Plymouth, blocked because of a crash.
- US 69 between US 18 near Garner and the Minnesota border, blocked because of storm.
- US 69 between County Road C20 near Blemond and US 18 near Garner blocked because of the storm.
- US 59 southbound between IA 175 near Ida Grove and IA 39 near Denison, blocked because of the storm.
- US 59 between IA 75 near Ida Grove and US 20 near Holstein, blocked because of the storm.
- IA 110 between US 20 near Schaller and IA 7 near Storm Lake, blocked because of the storm.
Check the road conditions in your area here.
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