Heavy snow is blanketing much of northwest Iowa five days into spring and traffic in many parts of the region is at a standstill.
Some areas report a foot of snow, while Le Mars got 15-inches of flakes overnight. That town’s public works superintendent Scott Kneip says even the city snow-moving equipment is getting bogged down in the deep drifts.
“It’s slick underneath,” Kneip says. “We’re having troubles. We’re getting stuck. The snow’s got a lot of moisture in it, it’s wet and heavy. It’s a challenge for us but we’re getting through it. It’s just going to take us a bit longer.” There was a lot of rain, sleet and ice before the snow started to fall, so once you dig through the snow, very slick pavement is being found.
“You get underneath there and it’s just frozen,” Kneip says. “There is ice and we are actually getting stuck out there with our city plow trucks. Backing up, turning around is the hardest part and being on a hill.”
Many roads from Le Mars to Sioux City and Orange City are still impassible and he’s advising folks in the area to just stay home.
“There’s a lot of snow,” Kneip says. “We just ask residents to give us some time. We’re going to have to make a couple of passes past their driveways to get the streets widened out to where they need to be.”
Travel is not advised on many roadways in northwest Iowa and parts of Interstate 29 are closed in and around Sioux City. Sergeant Scott Hatting, with the Sioux City Police Department, says the roads are a mess and residents should stay home.
“It’s impassible through most of the city except for certain streets,” Hatting says. “Most places have closed their businesses and if you do not have at least a four-wheel-drive vehicle, don’t attempt to go anywhere today.”
Travel is not advised within Sioux City as snowplows are still digging out emergency vehicles.
“People are not running into each other but they’re running into snow banks and they’re getting stuck and they’re causing traffic jams,” Hatting says. “They should not be out on the road in the first place.”
Many streets in Sioux City haven’t seen one pass by snowplows as yet since crews are having to focus on trying to get the main roads opened up.
“It’s just people getting stuck in the snow and the traffic, everything’s getting backed up and with the ice underneath the snow, it’s not helping matters,” Hatting says. “The fewer cars that are on the street, the better off we are to at least get a lane of traffic open throughout the city.”
Travel is also not advised in north-central Iowa in Kossuth and Winnebago counties, including around Algona. On the plus side, forecasters say highs should be in the 40s and 50s statewide by tomorrow.
(Story by Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars and Josie Cooper, KSCJ, Sioux City)