May, a month that normally heralds the blooming of flowers, instead brought seven inches of snow to Webster City on Thursday.
The snow took the city by surprise, including City Manager Ed Sadler, who said that city maintenance had transitioned from plowing snow to mowing grass. Snow removal equipment had to be prepared after being decommissioned for the season with blades having to be reattached early Thursday morning.
The heavy and wet snow did not cause as many issues on the streets as it did with electrical lines, according to Sadler. The weight on the power lines plus the gusts of wind caused numerous tree branches and power lines to be downed. Webster City police Chief Brian Hughes said the department notified the street department about the worsening road conditions at about 3:30 a.m. on Thursday. About an hour after that, he said the police began receiving calls about downed tree branches and power lines.The street department was out in the morning hauling tree branches out of the road so traffic could pass. Sadler said that a house near his had so many fallen tree limbs that it looked like a bomb went off.
Hughes said the police department received hundreds of phone calls about downed power lines and trees, with thousands of locations in the city needing attention. Fortunately, the wet snow made roads more passable, and Hughes said there were only two accidents on Thursday due to the snow. Neither accident caused injuries.
As of Thursday afternoon, Sadler said that most of the downed power lines had been repaired. More snow is possible this weekend. While trees near power lines are trimmed every five years and streets can be salted, Sadler said there is little the city can do to prevent outages. However, he said that crews will be there to fix downed lines as they happen.
The Webster City Community School District declared a snow day on Thursday. Superintendent Mike Sherwood said that the snow day now means that the last day of school will be June 5 for students and June 7 for staff. Sherwood also said that school buses will only be traveling on hard-surface roads today due to the snowfall.
A winter weather advisory is in effect until at least noon on Friday, with two to four inches of snow still possible. Sleet, strong winds and slick roads are expected.
The late-season snowstorm hit other areas much harder than Webster City. The Weather Channel reports that 18 inches of snow fell in Blooming Prairie, Minn., and parts of Colorado and Wyoming saw upwards of 20 inches. Snow also fell in the midwest from Kansas City, across parts of west and central Iowa, and into Wisconsin. In an AP story, Meteorologist Craig Cogil said this spring snowstorm is the largest snowfall in a 24-hour period in May. It's also the most snowfall total from any storm in May, and it's the most snow recorded ever in May.