As blizzard in the north dies down, all of Iowa under wind chill advisory as low as -20, -30 degrees
Temperatures continue to fall through the windy weekend. Des Moines Register
With travel still hazardous from blizzard conditions, the National Weather Service warns of dangerously cold wind chills throughout the state.
Heavy winds with gusts as fast as 50 mph have made the snow that fell Friday across the state continue to cause problems for Iowans, creating ground blizzard conditions.
The National Weather Service received some reports of whiteout conditions and the Iowa Department of Transportation said no driving is advised.
Now, a wind chill advisory is in effect for all of Iowa, excluding Mills and Fremont counties, which could bring wind chills as low as -20 to -30 degrees. These temperatures could cause frostbite quickly, so people are advised to limit their time outdoors.
The advisory will expire Sunday morning.
The blizzard warning was set to expire at 6 p.m., but the National Weather Service tweeted conditions were still hazardous.
Drivers would experience drifting, snow-covered and ice-packed roads if they choose to travel through much of the northern part of the state, National Weather Service meteorologist Melinda Beerends said Saturday afternoon.
"The travel is very treacherous up there right now due to that blowing snow," Beerends said. "We've had some reports of visibility as low as 20 feet or even whiteout conditions where they can barely see out over the hood of their car."
Friday's snowstorm brought close to 6 inches of snow in the metro and as much as 8 inches reported in Pocahontas. The Iowa State Patrol responded to 150 crashes and 221 motorist assists from 8 a.m. Friday to 8 a.m. Saturday.
The State Patrol posted a shocking video of a car nearly hitting a trooper and a pedestrian during a motorist assist in a ditch. They warned drivers to slow down.
The Des Moines Police Department said in an email they responded to 35 crash-related calls Friday and issued 228 parking violations of the snow ordinance. They issued over 1,000 during the first snowfall of the year on Jan. 10.
Beerends said no new precipitation is expected in the near term. But the coming days will be marked by high winds and frigid temperatures.
The National Weather Service reports that areas in northern Iowa and as far south as Story and Boone counties, and east as far as Chickasaw and Howard counties, will experience 30-40 mph wind with gusts as high as 50 mph.
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Intense winds affected most of central and eastern Iowa as well.
The winds caused a large power outage in Des Moines Saturday, leaving over 6,400 MidAmerican customers without power in the metro during freezing temperatures Saturday afternoon. Power was restored a few hours later.
Beerends emphasized that people in the northern part of the state should only drive in emergency circumstances. Those drivers should keep winter weather survival kits in their vehicles and let others know the route they are taking, she said.
Blizzard conditions also are not the time for outdoor activities.
"It's very easy to become disoriented when you're out in a blizzard and lose track of familiar landmarks," Beerend said.
Starting Saturday night with the wind chill advisory, Iowa will be left with frigid temperatures until Tuesday. Temperatures were already in the low single digits in northern Iowa on Saturday.
Temperatures in Des Moines hovered around 10 degrees Saturday in the afternoon but are expected to drop below zero tonight and into Sunday morning, according to WHO-TV.
Northern Iowa will experience lows of -5 and -6 degrees Sunday morning while southern Iowa will range from -3 to 2 degrees. Highs in the north will remain around 0 while the south should see single-digit highs.
The frigid temperatures will last until a warming trend Tuesday and Wednesday brings temperatures back into the 30s.
How to keep safe while driving on slick Iowa roads
If you have to drive on slick roads during an Iowa winter, here are tips on how to more safely travel, courtesy of the Iowa Department of Transportation:
- Check the weather forecast and road conditions before driving.
- Maintain a reasonable speed and safe following distance from the vehicle in front of you. Winter road conditions often result in longer stopping distances and reduced visibility.
- Drive below the posted speed limit when road conditions are less than ideal.
- Turn on lights to see and be seen.
- Keep head lights and tail lights clear of snow.
- Avoid using cruise control in winter driving conditions.
- You need to be in control of your car when accelerating based on road conditions. If your car is equipped with anti-lock brakes, understand how to use them and what to expect when they are used.
- Be aware that ramps and bridges may freeze before other roadway segments.
Bookmark these helpful winter weather links
- Iowa road conditions from DOT
- Airport: Check arrivals/departures
- Outages: MidAmerican | Alliant | Co-op
- Track DOT's plows on an interactive map
Danielle Gehr is a breaking news reporter at the Des Moines Register. She can be reached by email at email@example.com, by phone at 515-284-8367 or on Twitter at @Dani_Gehr.
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