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WATERLOO -- Snow that begins Tuesday evening in southwest Iowa will work its way up to the Cedar Valley as early as midnight tonight, dumping another 5 to 7 inches of snow on northeast Iowa throughout Wednesday -- and city officials are pleading for the public's patience as their supplies run out.

A winter storm warning goes into effect at midnight until 6 p.m. Wednesday for Black Hawk, Bremer, Butler, Franklin, Grundy, Hardin and Tama counties, according to the Des Moines bureau of the National Weather Service.

The winter storm warning was a few hours later in the far northeast corner of the state, going into effect at 3 a.m. Wednesday for Chickasaw, Fayette, Floyd, Howard, Mitchell and Winneshiek counties, according to the La Crosse, Wis., bureau of the NWS.

Total snow accumulation from Wednesday's storm will range from 5 to 7 inches for all counties, according to the NWS's Tuesday mid-morning forecast.

The NWS said the snow will likely make Wednesday's morning commute "hazardous" and "difficult."

The forecast led to quick decisions Tuesday afternoon: The University of Northern Iowa announced they would close Wednesday until 11 a.m., and a snow emergency was declared in Tama beginning at 10 p.m. Tuesday with no end date.

If the forecast holds, Waterloo will break an all-time snowfall record for February: A total of 21.7 inches of snow has fallen on Waterloo from Feb. 1 through Sunday, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Lee in Des Moines. The snowiest February of all time was 24.3 inches, set in 1962, meaning less than 3 more inches would break the record.

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And another round of snow may be on the way: A chance for "a wintry mix" of precipitation, including accumulating snow and strong winds, was possible from Saturday into Monday, according to the NWS.

Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart pleaded for patience this week from residents who have registered complains about the amount of time it has taken to plow residential streets and to remove mountains of snow impeding sidewalks and parking areas downtown.

"The people in those departments are working an immense amount of hours to make it happen," Hart said. "Any misconception that folks aren't working around the clock ... those things aren't true."

He also bemoaned some of the record weather problems that have occurred during his terms as mayor. The heavy snowfall this winter following the wettest September on record in Waterloo, which led to flooding problems in some neighborhoods.

"It's kind of becoming redundant," Hart said. "I'll say, 'Well, we've never seen this much rain before. We've never had two 500-year floods within an eight-year period.' It was just reported we've never had this much snow in this particular time period."

Public Works Director Randy Bennett said the city is perilously close to running out of road salt if the snow and ice keeps up. The city has already used the 4,000 tons of salt it contracted to receive this season and has ordered 500 tons of the 800-ton overage the contract allowed.

"We just need a reprieve," Bennett said. "We're just not getting it."

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Staff Writer

Staff writer at The Courier 2005 (college intern), 2007-2012, 2015-present. Graduate of UNI 2006. Three-time Iowa APME award winner (investigative reporting 2008, lifestyle feature 2016, business feature 2018)

Waterloo City Reporter

Waterloo city reporter for the Courier

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