Blizzard conditions in parts of northwest Iowa and “thunder snow” in central Iowa created hazardous driving conditions this afternoon and evening.
A 25-vehicle pile-up on Interstate-80, near the Waukee exit, closed eastbound lanes. Near DeSoto, on Highway 169, 30 vehicles crashed. On Interstate 35, a semi jack-knifed near the Cumming exit and northbound lanes were closed until the semi was moved. Sergeant Scott Bright of the Iowa Highway Patrol says speed was the major factor in these incidents.
“We just want to get people to slow down,” Bright said this evening. “I mean, that’s the big thing. When these storms come in like this, people are in so much of a hurry and it’s all about speed. People are not adjusting their speed to the road conditions.”
There were white-out conditions in northwest Iowa Thursday afternoon as strong wind gusts whipped the snow and some schools dismissed classes early. In central Iowa, many vehicles — especially semis — had difficultly getting up hills.
“The storm came in during rush hour traffic and people were heading home from work and that was a bad time for the storm to come through,” Bright said. “It was a very treacherous ride home for a lot of people.”
Sergeant Bright is urging drivers to increase the distance between their vehicle and others on the roads.
“Just because that speed limit sign says 65 or 70, they are made for normal driving conditions,” Bright said. “When you have snow on the roadway that’s not normal driving conditions, so they have to adjust their speed.”
The DOT has 163 snow plows out on the state’s highways overnight, trying to improve driving conditions, but DOT officials says with strong wind gusts, snow was quickly drifting over cleared roads. Temperatures overnight are expected to drop into the single digits in northern Iowa and the National Weather Service issued a wind chill advisory for north central and northeast Iowa, expecting wind chill readings to dip as low as 25 below zero.