Blizzard conditions kept law enforcement and rescue personnel busy Monday morning and conditions didn’t get much better throughout the day.
County sheriff’s deputies and state troopers investigated multiple accidents along the Interstate 35 and U.S. Highway 20 corridors, including a multiple semi crash Monday morning and a car-semi wreck in which at least three people sustained injuries, according to scanner information. Additionally, law enforcement officials were rescuing people stranded in autos along Hamilton County roadways.
A shelter for stranded motorists was set up at the Webster City Fire Station Monday night. According to Fire Chief John Conyn, cots were set up in the station’s training room to accommodate those needing shelter. Conyn estimated that seven to 10 people would be staying overnight.
Law enforcement also had trouble navigating the blowing snow.
Trooper Kyle Kluender, of the Iowa State Patrol, said his supervisor, Lt. Kelly Hindman, even got stuck at one point.
“Lt. Hindman spent about four hours in a snowbank north of Highway 20 between (U.S. Highway) 169 and I-35,” Kluender said. “He made a statement that it’s the worst he’s ever seen it in his career.”
Kluender said the state patrol was also handling a number of accidents, including some serious ones on Interstate 35.
“I think they pretty well shut down the interstate from Highway 20 to Mason City,” he said.
Interstate 35 between Clear Lake and Ames was closed in both directions due to the numerous crashes that had occurred, the reduced visibility and drifting snow. Just before 4 p.m. Monday, sheriff deputies reported via the scanner that U.S. Highway 20 was impassible west of Interstate 35 and Webster City reported that West Second Street in Webster City near Lamperts was completely drifted shut.
Al Yungclas of rural Webster City provided the Daily Freeman-Journal with photos of old Highway 20 near his home. The photos demonstrated the drifting snow and low visibility in the area.
School buses stayed in the Webster City bus barn Monday as classes were cancelled due to the road and visibility conditions. By late afternoon Monday, the district had already arranged for a two-hour late start on Tuesday with buses to only travel on hard-surfaced roads.
A winter weather advisory was in effect Monday night from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. Tuesday. The forecast for Tuesday calls for decreasing cloudiness with 20 to 30 mph winds and a high temperature around 11. Snow showers are in the forecast for Wednesday but windy conditions should subside, according to the National Weather Service.
Peter Kaspari of The Messenger contributed to this story.