The heavy, wet snow and high winds have left thousands of Iowans without power and have made driving extremely dangerous.
The State Patrol is reporting numerous jackknifed semis or stalled or stuck vehicles blocking roads.
Travel is not advised through at least midnight, according to Annette Dunn with the Iowa Department of Transportation.
“That does not mean the roadways are closed. We do have several accidents and there are portions of roadways that are impassable or closed for various reasons,” Dunn says.
“We’re going to have visibility and drifting problems through midnight.” The Iowa DOT and State Patrol provide road condition updates online at www.511ia.org.
Motorists can also call 511 to check on road conditions. Dunn says anyone venturing out today on Iowa’s highways or interstates will be putting themselves at risk. “It’s very difficult for us to keep those snow drifts off the roadway and the visibility, obviously, we can’t control,” Dunn says.
“If you can put your travel off until Friday, hopefully we’ll have this system a little more cleared up.” Late this morning, troopers responded to a 25 car crash along the southbound lanes of Interstate 35 in northern Iowa, just north of Highway 20 between Dows and Williams.
At least one person has died as a result of that chain reaction crash. Another crash involving semis closed the eastbound lanes of Interstate 80 near Grinnell. Utility crews are fanned out across the state responding to power outages. Tina Potthoff is a spokesperson for MidAmerican Energy.
She says more than 36,000 MidAmerican customers were without power late this morning, with roughly 33,000 of those in the Des Moines metro area. Alliant Energy had more than 15,000 Iowa customers without power just before 11 a.m. Potthoff says MidAmerican has a list of roughly 1,700 incidents to respond to and power outages are the top priority.
“In some cases, we can make a repair and we’ll get a number of people back on, maybe several hundred at a time. We’ll target those areas that have numerous customers apart of one particular circuit,” Potthoff said. “In other cases, we’ll have to make individual repairs to individual homes or farmsteads.”
MidAmerican Energy customers are asked to report power outages by calling 1-800-799-4443. Alliant Energy customers should call 1-877-740-5050.