State Climatologist Harry Hillaker says the latest storms that dumped snow and ice on Iowa rank up there with some of the worst in history. Hillaker says it’s hard to make a comparison, but when it comes to snowfall, the last similar snowstorm was back in January of 1996.
Hillaker says the most regents storm had some unique characteristics. He says it had higher winds than the storm in 1996, and says the one thing that was lacking from the latest storm was bitterly cold temperatures. Hillaker says the 1996 storm was followed by 10 days of sub-zero temperatures.
The first storm that hit at the end of February began with lots of ice. Hillaker says the most unusual aspect of that storm was how widespread the ice was across the state. He says there were some other severe ice storms that did more intense damage, but they didn’t involve nearly as big an area. Hillaker says the last big ice storm he recalls was in November of 1991.
Hillaker the area that got heavy ice in that storm was only 30 to 40 miles wide, but there was severe damage where it did hit, because the winds were higher. Hillaker says this year’s storm hit a lot of counties.
Hillaker says it was probably the most widespread ice storm he could remember, and he says the snowfall that came right after the storm was very heavy. Hillaker says some areas got as much as 20 inches of snow in some areas of the state. The storms ended with Governor Chet Culver declaring all 99 counties disaster areas.