Many cell phone users in Iowa received a rude awakening early this (Wednesday) morning. The first official Wireless Emergency Alert was issued in our area, warning residents about a Blizzard Warning….that goes into effect at 6-p.m. Customers of Verizon Wireless may have heard three short blasts at around 4-a.m., representing the Emergency Alert System. Some customers of U-S Cellular in the area report they received neither the alert tones nor text message informing them about the alert.
You may recall we told you back in June, that officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced the agency was providing additional tools for federal, state, local officials and others, to alert and warn the public about severe weather.
The Commercial Mobile Alert System, or CMAS, is being used to deliver Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) to wireless carriers for distribution to the public. That means your cell phone will receive messages on its screen, similar to a text message, showing the type and time of the alert, along with what type of action will be taken. The alerts will NOT take the place of locations where CODE RED alert systems are in-place, as those systems also handle a wide variety of local emergency situations.
The message will be no more than 90 characters, and will have a unique tone and vibration, indicating a WEA has been received. If an alert is received by your cell phone, you are advised to follow the instructions and seek additional information from local radio, television, NOAA Weather Radio and other official sources for emergency information.
The alerts will be broadcast by cell towers. Any cell phone within range of those specific towers will immediately pick up the signal, provided they are capable of receiving the alerts. The availability of WEA alerts is dependent on the network status of the wireless carriers and handset availability, since not all cell phones receive WEA’s. Check with your cellular carrier to see if WEA alerts are available in your area.
FEMA says as with all new cellular services, it will take time for upgrades in infrastructure, coverage and handset technology, to allow WEA alerts to reach all cellular customers.
Snow plow drivers will be busy over the next couple days with the first major winter storm of the season bearing down on Iowa. Annette Dunn is Winter Operations Manager with the Iowa Department of Transportation. “We have about 900 trucks available and although I don’t think we’ll need them for this winter storm, we do also have snow blowers,” Dunn said. “All of our salt sheds are full at this point statewide and we are ready to go.”
The forecast calls for heavy snow at times and near-blizzard condition across much of the state today into tomorrow. Dunn is advising motorists not to “crowd the plow” and simply slow down when they see any of the DOT’s bright orange vehicles. “Especially with this storm that we have coming, there’s probably going to be some visibility issues and there’s not a snow plow in the world that can help us with visibility issues,” Dunn said. “And you may approach a snow plow very quickly since they’ll be going only about 25 to 40 miles an hour.”
Snow plow operators didn’t log many hours last year thanks to one of the mildest winters in the state’s history. Dunn says DOT workers have still been busy. “We’re are actually out there dealing with frost and trying to prevent frost, so we are using material and staff time,” Dunn said. “The nice weather has allowed us to shift our resources over to some of the maintenance we need to do on roadway system.”
Dunn is reminding motorists, if they must travel in foul weather, to keep the gas tank nearly full, pack an emergency survival kit and carry a fully charged cell phone. Items in the winter survival kit in your vehicle should include booster cables, candles and matches, a flashlight with fresh batteries, extra blankets and warm clothes, nonperishable food items, a can for melting water, and a snow shovel. Motorists can check winter road conditions in Iowa at www.511ia.org or by calling 5-1-1.
Here’s the latest (podcast) forecast for Atlantic, and the KJAN listening area, from KJAN News Director Ric Hanson….
405 AM CST WED DEC 19 2012
…BLIZZARD WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 6 PM THIS EVENING TO NOON CST THURSDAY…
TODAY…MOSTLY CLOUDY. A CHANCE OF RAIN EARLY IN THE AFTERNOON. SNOW LIKELY LATE IN THE AFTERNOON. SNOW ACCUMULATION AROUND 1 INCH. HIGH IN THE UPPER 30S. NORTHEAST WIND 5 TO 15 MPH. CHANCE OF PRECIPITATION 70 PERCENT.
TONIGHT…SNOW. AREAS OF BLOWING SNOW AFTER MIDNIGHT. WINDY. SNOW MAY BE HEAVY AT TIMES EARLY IN THE MORNING. SNOW ACCUMULATION OF 8 TO 9 INCHES. TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATION 9 TO 10 INCHES. LOW IN THE LOWER 20S. NORTHEAST WIND 15 TO 25 MPH SHIFTING TO THE NORTH 25 TO 30 MPH AFTER MIDNIGHT. GUSTS UP TO 40 MPH. CHANCE OF SNOW NEAR 100 PERCENT.
THURSDAY…PARTLY SUNNY. A 20 PERCENT CHANCE OF SNOW THROUGH MID MORNING. AREAS OF BLOWING SNOW IN THE MORNING. WINDY…COLDER. HIGH IN THE MID 20S. TEMPERATURE STEADY OR SLOWLY FALLING IN THE AFTERNOON. NORTHWEST WIND 20 TO 30 MPH WITH GUSTS TO AROUND 40 MPH.
THURSDAY NIGHT…MOSTLY CLEAR. BREEZY…COLDER. LOW ZERO TO 5 ABOVE. NORTHWEST WIND 10 TO 20 MPH WITH GUSTS TO AROUND 30 MPH DECREASING TO 5 TO 10 MPH AFTER MIDNIGHT.
FRIDAY…MOSTLY SUNNY. HIGH IN THE UPPER 20S. NORTHWEST WIND NEAR 5 MPH SHIFTING TO THE SOUTHWEST IN THE AFTERNOON.
FRIDAY NIGHT AND SATURDAY…MOSTLY CLEAR. LOW 10 TO 15. HIGH AROUND 30.
CARROLL-AUDUBON-GUTHRIE-DALLAS-CASS- ADAIR-MADISON-ADAMS-UNION-TAYLOR & RINGGOLD COUNTIES….358 AM CST WED DEC 19 2012
…BLIZZARD WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 6 PM THIS EVENING TO NOON CST THURSDAY……WINTER STORM WARNING IS CANCELLED…
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN DES MOINES HAS ISSUED A BLIZZARD WARNING…WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 6 PM THIS EVENING TO NOON CST THURSDAY. THE WINTER STORM WARNING HAS BEEN CANCELLED.
PRECIPITATION WILL OVERSPREAD WESTERN IOWA LATE THIS AFTERNOON. SNOW IS EXPECTED ALONG AND NORTH OF AN ATLANTIC THROUGH JEFFERSON LINE. RAIN IS EXPECTED IN SOUTHERN IOWA SOUTH OF A BEDFORD TO OSCEOLA LINE. IN BETWEEN…A RAIN AND SNOW MIX IS EXPECTED. THIS PRECIPITATION WILL CHANGE TO ALL SNOW THIS EVENING BEFORE ENDING THURSDAY MORNING.
6 TO 10 INCHES OF SNOW ARE FORECAST BY THURSDAY MORNING. THE HEAVIEST SNOW AXIS WILL BE ALONG A LINE FROM ATLANTIC TO ADEL. THE LOWEST AMOUNTS ARE EXPECTED NEAR THE MISSOURI BORDER. SNOW DRIFTS SEVERAL FEET DEEP WILL BE POSSIBLE GIVEN THE STRONG WINDS.
WINDS WILL BECOME VERY STRONG LATE TONIGHT FROM THE NORTH NORTHWEST. SUSTAINED WINDS OF 25 TO 35 MPH ARE EXPECTED WITH GUSTS OVER 45 MPH POSSIBLE. THE STRONGEST WINDS ARE EXPECTED A FROM MIDNIGHT THROUGH NOON THURSDAY. BLIZZARD CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED AT TIMES WITH VISIBILITY REDUCED BELOW ONE QUARTER OF A MILE.
VERY DANGEROUS CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED TO DEVELOP TONIGHT INTO THURSDAY MORNING. BE PREPARED FOR VERY DANGEROUS TRAVEL AND BLIZZARD CONDITIONS. IN RURAL AREAS ESPECIALLY…ONLY TRAVEL IF YOU MUST…OTHERWISE STAY SAFE AND STAY HOME.
MONONA-HARRISON-SHELBY-POTTAWATTAMIE-MILLS-MONTGOMERY-FREMONT & PAGE COUNTIES...339 AM CST WED DEC 19 2012
…WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 3 PM THIS AFTERNOON TO 6 AM CST THURSDAY...
LIGHT SNOW WILL SPREAD INTO THE AREA BY MID AFTERNOON…THEN BECOME MODERATE TO HEAVY BY LATE AFTERNOON INTO WEDNESDAY NIGHT. SNOW WILL BE DECREASING LATE WEDNESDAY NIGHT BUT STRONG WINDS WILL CONTINUE INTO THURSDAY MORNING. SNOW ACCUMULATIONS OF 6 TO 9 INCHES ARE LIKELY. LOCALLY HEAVIER AMOUNTS WILL BE POSSIBLE.
NORTHEAST WINDS WILL INCREASE TO 15 TO 25 MPH BY MID TO LATE AFTERNOON. NORTH WINDS OF 20 TO 30 MPH AND GUSTS TO 40 MPH ARE EXPECTED WEDNESDAY NIGHT INTO THURSDAY MORNING. WINDS WILL SLOWLY DECREASE LATER THURSDAY MORNING.
THE COMBINATION OF HEAVY SNOW AND STRONG WINDS WILL CREATE CONSIDERABLE BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW. THIS WILL CAUSE LOW VISIBILITIES FROM LATE WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON THROUGH WEDNESDAY NIGHT. WHITE-OUT CONDITIONS WILL BE POSSIBLE IN SOME LOCATIONS.
THE ENTIRE KJAN LISTENING AREA IS UNDER A WINTER STORM WARNING WEDNESDAY AND PARTS OF THURSDAY. THE WARNING WILL BE IN EFFECT IN THE FAR WEST AND SOUTHWEST COUNTIES (INCLUDING MONONA, HARRISON, SHELBY, POTTAWATTAMIE, MILLS, MONTGOMERY, FREMONT AND PAGE) FROM 3-PM WED. TO 6-AM THURSDAY. THIS REPLACES THE WINTER STORM WATCH WHICH HAD BEEN IN EFFECT. THE WARNING IS ALSO IN EFFECT FROM 4-PM WEDNESDAY UNTIL NOON THURSDAY, FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE AREA.
LIGHT SNOW WILL SPREAD ACROSS THE REGION DURING THE AFTERNOON HOURS WEDNESDAY, THEN TURN HEAVY BY LATE AFTERNOON OR EARLY EVENING. PERIODS OF HEAVY SNOW SHOULD CONTINUE THROUGH MIDNIGHT BEFORE BEFORE DECREASING.
SNOW ACCUMULATIONS…5 TO 8 INCHES ARE LIKELY.
WINDS…NORTHEAST WINDS WILL INCREASE TO 20 TO 30 MPH BY LATE AFTERNOON WITH NORTH WINDS OF 25 TO 35 MPH AND GUSTS TO 40 MPH EXPECTED INTO EARLY THURSDAY MORNING.
IMPACTS...THE COMBINATION OF HEAVY SNOW AND STRONG WINDS WILL CREATE CONSIDERABLE BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW AND POOR VISIBILITIES FROM LATE WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON INTO THURSDAY MORNING. WHITE-OUT CONDITIONS WILL BE POSSIBLE IN SOME LOCATIONS.
324 PM CST TUE DEC 18 2012 .
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN DES MOINES HAS ISSUED A WINTER STORM WARNING FOR HEAVY SNOW AND BLOWING SNOW…WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 4 PM WEDNESDAY TO NOON CST THURSDAY. THE WINTER STORM WATCH IS NO LONGER IN EFFECT FOR THE COUNTIES MENTIONED ABOVE. A WINTER STORM WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR COUNTIES IN FAR WEST AND SOUTHWEST IOWA FROM WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON THROUGH LATE WED. NIGHT.
TIMING…PRECIPITATION WILL OVERSPREAD CENTRAL IOWA LATE WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON. SNOW IS EXPECTED ALONG AND NORTH OF AN ATLANTIC THROUGH JEFFERSON LINE. RAIN IS EXPECTED IN SOUTHERN IOWA SOUTH OF A BEDFORD TO OSCEOLA LINE. IN BETWEEN…A RAIN AND SNOW MIX IS EXPECTED. THIS PRECIPITATION WILL CHANGE TO ALL SNOW LATE WEDNESDAY EVENING BEFORE ENDING ON THURSDAY MORNING.
STORM TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATION…6 TO 10 INCHES OF SNOW IS EXPECTED BY THURSDAY MORNING. THE HEAVIEST SNOW AXIS WILL BE ALONG A LINE FROM ATLANTIC TO ADEL. THE LOWEST AMOUNTS ARE EXPECTED NEAR THE MISSOURI BORDER. SNOW DRIFTS SEVERAL FEET DEEP WILL BE POSSIBLE GIVEN THE STRONG WINDS.
WINDS/VISIBILITY…WINDS WILL BECOME VERY STRONG WEDNESDAY NIGHT FROM THE NORTH NORTHWEST. SUSTAINED WINDS OF 25 TO 35 MPH ARE EXPECTED WITH GUSTS OVER 45 MPH POSSIBLE. THE STRONGEST WINDS ARE EXPECTED A FEW HOURS PRIOR TO DAYBREAK THROUGH NOON THURSDAY. NEAR BLIZZARD CONDITIONS MAY OCCUR WITH VISIBILITIES REDUCED BELOW ONE QUARTER OF A MILE FROM TIME TO TIME.
IMPACTS...VERY DANGEROUS CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED TO DEVELOP ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT INTO THURSDAY MORNING. BE PREPARED FOR VERY DIFFICULT TRAVEL AND NEAR BLIZZARD CONDITIONS. THIS WARNING MAY NEED TO BE UPGRADED TO A BLIZZARD WARNING SHOULD FORECAST CONDITIONS WARRANT.
PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS… A WINTER STORM WARNING FOR HEAVY SNOW MEANS SEVERE WINTER WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED OR OCCURRING. SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF SNOW ARE FORECAST THAT WILL MAKE TRAVEL DANGEROUS. ONLY TRAVEL IN AN EMERGENCY. IF YOU MUST TRAVEL…KEEP AN EXTRA FLASHLIGHT… FOOD…AND WATER IN YOUR VEHICLE IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY.
1115 AM CST TUE DEC 18 2012
…WINTER STORM WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON THROUGH THURSDAY AFTERNOON…
* TIMING…PRECIPITATION WILL OVERSPREAD CENTRAL IOWA WEDNESDAYAFTERNOON. SNOW IS EXPECTED ALONG AND NORTH OF AN ATLANTIC THROUGH BOONE TO WATERLOO LINE. RAIN IS EXPECTED IN SOUTHERN IOWA SOUTH OF A BEDFORD TO OSKALOOSA LINE. IN BETWEEN…A RAIN AND SNOW MIX IS EXPECTED. THIS PRECIPITATION WILL CHANGE TO ALL SNOW LATE WEDNESDAY EVENING BEFORE ENDING THURSDAY MORNING.
* STORM TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATION…5 TO 8 INCHES OF SNOW IS EXPECTED IN THE WATCH AREA. LOCAL AMOUNTS OF UP TO 10 INCHES WILL BE VERY POSSIBLE WITH DRIFTS EVEN HIGHER.
* WINDS/VISIBILITY…WINDS WILL BECOME VERY STRONG WEDNESDAY NIGHT FROM THE NORTH NORTHWEST. SUSTAINED WINDS OF 25 TO 33 MPH ARE EXPECTED WITH GUSTS OVER 45 MPH POSSIBLE. THE STRONGEST WINDS ARE EXPECTED A FEW HOURS PRIOR TO DAYBREAK THROUGH NOON THURSDAY. BLIZZARD OR NEAR BLIZZARD CONDITIONS
MAY OCCUR WITH VISIBILITIES REDUCED BELOW ONE QUARTER OF A MILE FROM TIME TO TIME.
* IMPACTS...VERY DANGEROUS CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED TO DEVELOP ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT INTO THURSDAY MORNING. BE PREPARED FOR VERY DIFFICULT TRAVEL AND BLIZZARD OR NEAR BLIZZARD CONDITIONS.
A WINTER STORM WATCH MEANS THERE IS A POTENTIAL FOR SIGNIFICANT SNOW…SLEET…OR ICE ACCUMULATIONS THAT MAY IMPACT TRAVEL…IN THIS CASE SNOW. CONTINUE TO MONITOR THE LATEST FORECASTS. IF FORECAST CONFIDENCE REGARDING THE STRONG WINDS CONTINUES TO INCREASE…THIS WATCH MAY BE UPGRADED TO A BLIZZARD WATCH TODAY.
(Updated to include Lenox Snow Ordinance)
With the chance of a significant snowfall to occur in southwest Iowa the Clarinda Police Department would like to remind the citizens of Clarinda about the emergency snow ordinance. Chief Keith Brothers says the ordinance states that no person shall park any motor vehicle or other apparatus upon any street of the city that will obstruct the removal of snow when there has been an accumulation of two (2) inches or more. Any vehicle left parked on any street in violation of this ordinance may be impounded and subject to a traffic citation.
And, the Lenox Police Department reports The City of Lenox snow ordinance will be in effect beginning at 6-PM Wednesday. The ordinance will remain in effect until snow plowing operations have ceased. During snow removal operations, there is NO on street parking permitted. Vehicles in violation of the ordinance will be issued a $20.00 citation and may be subject to tow.
With the anticipation of a busy holiday travel weekend approaching, the Iowa Department of Transportation is cautioning drivers that the first major winter storm of the season may hamper some travel plans. The storm’s severity will vary depending on location. The National Weather Service is predicting 5 to 8 inches of snow along a line from Atlantic through Boone to Waterloo, with isolated instances of 10 inches possible. Rain is expected in southern Iowa along a line from Bedford to Oskaloosa. In between, a rain/snow mix is expected. All precipitation is expected to change to snow overnight Wednesday before ending Thursday morning.
Winds are expected to become very strong Wednesday night from the north/northwest. Sustained winds of 25 to 33 mph are expected, with gusts of 45 mph or more possible. The strongest winds are expected a few hours prior to daybreak through noon Thursday. Blizzard or near blizzard conditions may occur with visibilities reduced below one-quarter of a mile from time to time.
The Iowa DOT is offering several tips for safe winter travel during the impending storm. First, they say to ask yourself “Is the trip necessary?” Often, delaying a trip by a few hours can give snow removal crews time to get the roads back to normal winter driving conditions. For traveler information, now available via the web, Twitter, Facebook or on your mobile phone, visit http://511ia.org/. Or simply call 511 (within Iowa) or 800-288-1047 (nationwide). Before you leave, let someone know your departure and expected arrival times, along with your intended route. Allow extra time to reach your destination.
Second, prepare your vehicle and passengers: Make sure your vehicle is in good mechanical condition and its gas tank is nearly full. Turn on your vehicle’s headlights so you can see and be seen. Ensure all passengers are wearing their seat belts or are in child safety seats.
Another tip, is be prepared to use your winter driving skills: Do not use cruise control. Allow extra stopping distance by maintaining adequate distance between your vehicle and the one ahead. Avoid abrupt steering maneuvers. Lower your vehicle’s speed, accelerate more slowly and apply the brakes in a controlled manner.
Carry an emergency survival kit and other supplies.Carry a mobile phone for making an emergency call, but don’t use it while driving unless absolutely necessary. Your vehicle’s winter survival kit should contain items to help sustain your life and the lives of your passengers should your vehicle become stranded. Those items can include: booster cables, candles and matches, a flashlight with fresh batteries, extra blankets and warm clothes, nonperishable food items, a can for melting water, and a snow shovel. Sufficient supplies should be in the kit for all persons traveling in the vehicle.
And remember: Use caution when approaching, following or passing a snowplow. Remember the slogans, “Ice and Snow … Take it Slow” and “Don’t crowd the plow.”