Scores of vehicles ended up in ditches, but there were no fatalities reported in north and northeast Iowa during a pre-Christmas winter storm which effects were felt from Thursday Dec. 22, into Saturday, Dec. 24.
Northwest winds averaging 25 to 30 mph, with wind gusts of 45 to 50 mph late Thursday to Saturday morning led to wind chills of 30-to-40 degrees below zero and continual blowing and drifting snow to the point road maintenance crews could not keep up and were pulled from the roads. Many County crews called off plowing operations by noon Friday, including Floyd and Chickasaw counties. The Iowa DOT announced at 3 p.m. Friday they had to shut down I-35 from Ames to Clear Lake. It would not re-open until mid=morning Saturday.
A Facebook post by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Saturday (12,24) morning reported “roads are a mess with 50+ cars stuck on secondary roads; the majority from out of state, trying to get through Iowa with I-35 being closed. Deputies shuttled stranded people and filled all local bed and breakfasts, hotels, motels with an overflow of 20 people spending the night in the Sheriff’s Office meeting room.”
The post also noted, “In the last 20 hours we received 165 9-1-1 calls and 157 to our local dispatch number. Our dispatchers are doing a great job of keeping everything organized and we are helping everyone as quickly as we can.”
Mother Nature still wasn’t done for the holiday weekend with more blowing and drifting snow throughout Saturday along with more frigid wind chills, plus snowfall Christmas night including three inches in Charles City and four inches in Mason City.