WATERLOO | The Iowa State Patrol lifted a stranded-vehicle towing ban imposed on state highways this morning in Butler, Bremer, Grundy and Hardin counties due to poor visibility. Black Hawk County will lift its ban at 1 p.m.
"That will give the plows a little time to catch up," said Black Hawk Couty Sheriff Tony Thompson. "An hour ago, we were in whiteout conditions on the interstate and now it's fine."
Thompson spent time this morning at the scene of several accidents including a pickup truck rollover accident on U.S. Highway 20 between the Dunkerton and Jesup exits. At the time, towing operations were just too difficult to conduct because passing motorists cannot see the stranded vehicles or emergency crews from a safe distance, he indicated.
In a separate mishap, state troopers ambulance crews worked an accident in which an Iowa Department of Transportation snow plow driver went off the road on U.S. Highway 63 near Gresham Road due to a medical condition. Ambulance crews attended to the driver and the plow was freed before 9:30 a.m.
Some 700 households in Black Hawk County, most of them in Dunkerton, were without power for two to three hours this morning as a new winter storm moved in, making travel difficult with up to several inches of snow expected locally through the day.
Many schools were closed, including Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Cedar Valley Catholic, Union Community, Dunkerton, the Bosco system and Hawkeye Community College. The University of Northern Iowa is open.
The Iowa Department of Transportation reported at 9:30 am. today that all roads in the state, except for the Council Bluffs-Omaha area, were either partially or completely covered with snow, ice and blowing or drifting snow, with more icy conditions in south-central and southeast Iowa. Snow and blowing snow was the rule around the Waterloo-Cedar Falls metro area.
Thompson said driving conditions were difficult throughout the county this morning. "This snow is a little more firm than we've had in the past," he said, comparing to previous recent storms with lighter, drifting snow.
The Dunkerton-area outage, which occurred at 5:42 a.m. is believed to be weather related, MidAmerican Energy spokeswoman Tina Potthoff said. More than 400 households in Dunkerton were without power, due to a broken power pole. Power began to be restored at about 7:25 a.m. and most customers had power back by 8:18 a.m.
Another dose of winter precipitation was anticipated statewide today, with snow around Waterloo, ice to the south and west and heavier snow to the east. A winter weather advisory is in effect until noon locally, with winter storm warnings until 6 p.m. to the east.
The National Weather Service projected 2 to 4 inches of snow through the day today in the Waterloo area, with snow and sleet before 3 p.m. and a slight chance of freezing rain between 3 and 4 p.m. with little or no ice accumulation expected. The high is expected to be 34, with a wind chill of 5 above zero.
An inch or more of snow is anticipated across the advisory area in northern and eastern Iowa. "The higher end of that range should be near the Waterloo area," the Weather Service said. About a tenth of a inch of ice or sleet is anticipated from central Iowa, extending south and east.
"Very poor travel conditions are anticipated," particularly in central Iowa, expected to receive sleet and freezing rain before converting to mainly snow, with 10 to 20 mph winds and gusts up to 30 mph winds with the highest gusts in the north.
Meanwhile, a winter storm warning in effect until 6 p.m. for Iowa counties along the Mississippi River and points east, including Dubuque, with 5 to 7 inches of snow anticipated.
"Motorists should be prepared for poor travel conditions," the Weather Service advisory said. "Visibility may be reduced and further slow travel."
Tuesday in Waterloo is anticipated to be sunny with a high of 38 degrees with a wind chill of 10 above zero.