Governor Chet Culver has now declared the entire state a disaster area. Culver made the announcement at noon today. "As you’re well aware, we have a severe weather situation in all 99 counties," Culver said. After the first winter storm swept through the state, Culver declared 60 counties disaster areas. Today, he added the other 39.
In addition, the governor has asked that 44 counties — the counties which bore the brunt of the first storm — be declared federal disaster areas and he expects more counties to be added to that tally once damage assessments are complete. "That highlights, clearly, the significance of this statewide storm," Culver says. The new storm marching into the state has caused white-out conditions exist in western Iowa, with snow drifting up to four feet in some areas. Four inches of snow had fallen in Atlantic by noon."The weather situation is not getting any better," Culver says.
National Weather Service forecaster Brenda Brock says as expected, southwest and western Iowa were the first to get hit by this latest storm. "When the winds shifted around to the northwest in those areas, that’s when the problems really began," Brock says. "We had some light snow occurring, but as these winds shifted out of the east — and they were blustery at 20 to 30 (miles an hour) — but as they shifted around to the northwest they started being a sustained wind of 25 to 30 miles an hour with higher gusts in some places 50, 60 miles an hour."
Brock predicts that stiff wind will persist through Friday morning. There’s a blizzard warning for western and central Iowa, while eastern Iowa has a snow advisory in effect. And in southeast Iowa where temperatures are still in the 40s, there are now flooding concerns. Brock says the forecast shows the high winds will encompass just about the whole state.
"We have serious weather, statewide, no matter what the precipitation conditions are," she says. The governor says it’s the winds that are of greatest concern because those winds can knock down more power lines. "We had more than 325,000 homes without power with the first storm," Culver says. "…We are concerned that we could have prolonged outages statewide given the weather combination and especially the winds."