WATERLOO — Winter held its firm grip on the area with heavy snowfall, blowing winds and toppling temperatures.
The area came to a standstill Tuesday morning when the community awoke to nearly 8 inches of fresh powder. It forced school cancellations, caused numerous traffic snarls as plow drivers worked through the night and into Tuesday trying to clear the streets.
By afternoon, the temperatures began to drop as the winds picked up.
Snow totals, according to Kyle Kiel, meteorologist with KWWL-TV in Waterloo, ranged from 6 inches in New Hartford to 8 inches in West Union and Elkader.
Officially at the Waterloo Regional Airport, the total was 7.7 inches.
Meanwhile, area law enforcement were kept busy Monday night and Tuesday with stranded travelers.
Black Hawk County Sheriff’s deputies handled numerous calls as vehicles collided or slipped into ditches late Monday and early Tuesday.
County plows were clearing roads, but snow is drifting, and roads are 75 to 100 percent snow and ice covered, said Capt. Mark Herbst with the sheriff’s office. Plows were pulled in the early afternoon due to whiteout conditions.
County Engineer Cathy Nicholas said equipment would return to the roads at 5 a.m. Wednesday.
“We ask for the public’s patience,” Nicholas said. “It does take us a while to get to everybody.”
A semi carrying 155 hogs to the Tyson plant in Waterloo slid into a ditch at Schrock Road and Ansborough Avenue around midnight, Herbst said.
The wreck blocked part of the roadway, and deputies remained at the scene overnight.
“We can’t just leave it. It’s dark out here,” Herbst said.
Surviving hogs were loaded onto another truck, and crews were moving the semi and trailer Tuesday morning.
Snow-covered roadways also led the Black Hawk County Board of Supervisors to postpone its budget deliberations Tuesday and push back approval of new union contracts.
Supervisors Linda Laylin and Chris Schwartz were unable to get to the Courthouse and participated by telephone in the regular meeting. Finance Director Susan Deaton and the county’s contracted labor negotiator were unable to attend as well.
Many businesses and nonprofits opened late, if they opened at all. The Northeast Iowa Food Bank and Cedar Valley Food Pantry delayed its opening until 10 a.m. Tuesday. The University of Northern Iowa did not open until 10 a.m., and Hawkeye Community College closed altogether.
As Cedar Valley residents began making their way to work, some got stuck. Some stopped to help others get unstuck.
Waterloo resident Titania Buchanan witnessed a good deed two houses down from hers.
“Random act of kindness,” she posted on Facebook. “Older lady was stuck in her driveway, a guy stopped and not only dug her out but went back and shoveled her driveway so she wouldn’t get stuck again when she comes home.”
Realtor Steve Burrell with Structure Real Estate in Cedar Falls offered up $10 gift certificates to local pizza place Your Pie to anyone who posted photos on Facebook of a kid or themselves shoveling out a fire hydrant.
“I’m a volunteer firefighter, and it’s vitally important in an emergency that we have quick access and that the valve bolts are clear of snow,” Burrell told The Courier. “Plus, I feel it’s important that kids see the importance of being an active part of the community, and even small efforts make a big difference!”
Snow shovels were in high demand over at Spellers True Value on East Fourth Street in Waterloo, said owner Allen Speller. They had plenty of ice melt — about 150 bags’ worth — and snowblower accessories, antifreeze and other snow-day gear were flying off the shelves, he said.
“We’re selling a nice amount of it,” Speller said Tuesday morning. “We kind of prepared for the storm.”