There are no surprises in the statewide outlook being issued for the spring flood season. Jeff Zogg, senior hydrologist with the National Weather Service office in metro Des Moines, says it appears the drought that plagued Iowa most of last year will continue into 2013. One upside of that is — flooding is less likely. “The spring flood risk is lower than normal statewide, however, across the north-central part of the state, there’s a little bit of a different situation,” Zogg says. “We have a combination of frozen ground and some ice in the upper layers of the soil which may result in more runoff than we’d otherwise expect once the snow melts and we get any kind of rainfall in the spring.”
While 2012 was one of Iowa’s driest years in decades, the report indicates there’s no alteration in course coming in the weeks ahead. “Since the risk of flooding is lower than normal, that just infers that the drought conditions are continuing,” Zogg says. “We see no indications right now that there’s going to be a significant change in the dry conditions we’ve been experiencing.”
The worst drought conditions are in the northwest half of Iowa. The state’s snow pack is below-normal, except for the upper-most portion of the Des Moines River basin in southwest Minnesota where it is above normal. For Iowa’s farmers, the report means more headaches and scanning the skies, praying for rain. “The soil moisture conditions statewide are below normal,” Zogg says. “They’re driest across the northwest part of the state and a little bit closer to normal across the southeast part of Iowa and that’s been the theme since last summer.”
A report in December claimed Iowa would need eight feet of snow this winter to make up for the rainfall we lacked all of last year. Zogg isn’t sure about that eight-foot figure but says the end result is still the same. “The fact of the matter is, we are definitely dry and we are going to need a prolonged period of above-normal precipitation to end the drought,” Zogg says. “Unfortunately, with snowfall, the water content is lower obviously than if it falls as rain, so snowfall itself won’t make much of an impact. It’s also important that we don’t receive it all at once, especially as rainfall, because that will result in flooding.”
PERVICAL, Iowa (AP) – The big storm system that dumped a half foot or more of snow on some parts of Iowa may have fallen short of some expectations. Kelly Malone is a shift manager at the Pilot Flying J station and store that sits along Iowa Highway 2 just west of Interstate 29 in southwest Iowa. Malone said Friday that things were pretty hectic at the Flying J on Thursday, as customers stopped briefly for fuel or food while hustling to beat the storm.
His company had taken precautions by reserving seven rooms for employees at the nearby Super 8 Motel. Malone says, “We were prepared for the worst, but it didn’t happen that bad. To me it was just an average storm, but I’m a person who drives through anything.”
The National Weather Service said snowfall across the area ranged from 5-to 6-inches across the southwest corner of the state, from 3.5-to 5-inches across Ringgold and Taylor Counties northwestward to portions of Pottawattamie and Harrison Counties. Other areas received anywhere from 2-to 3-inches of snow.
Snowfall reports from around southwest/western Iowa (as of 6-a.m.):
Atlantic (@ KJAN) 4.5″…..Villisca 6″…..Malvern 6.5″
The Iowa Department of Transportation (511ia.org) reports that as of 6:25-a.m, roadways in southwest Iowa, west of the Cass/Adair County line and along and south of I-80, were partially or mostly covered with snow. Towing services are prohibited. Other roads around the listening area are completely covered with snow, and towing services are prohibited.
…WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT UNTIL NOON CST TODAY…
EARLY THIS MORNING…SNOW. LITTLE OR NO NEW SNOW ACCUMULATION. NORTH WIND 5 TO 10 MPH. CHANCE OF SNOW 90 PERCENT.
TODAY…CLOUDY. A CHANCE OF LIGHT SNOW THROUGH MID MORNING…THEN SCATTERED FLURRIES BEFORE NOON. HIGH IN THE MID 20S. NORTHWEST WIND 10 TO 15 MPH. CHANCE OF SNOW 30 PERCENT.
TONIGHT...MOSTLY CLOUDY THROUGH MIDNIGHT THEN BECOMING PARTLY CLOUDY. COLDER. LOW 5 TO 10 ABOVE. WEST WIND 5 TO 10 MPH.
SATURDAY…PARTLY SUNNY. HIGH IN THE LOWER 30S. SOUTHWEST WIND 5 TO 10 MPH.
SATURDAY NIGHT…PARTLY CLOUDY. LOW AROUND 15. SOUTH WIND 5 TO 10 MPH.
SUNDAY…MOSTLY CLOUDY. HIGH IN THE LOWER 30S. SOUTH WIND NEAR 5 MPH SHIFTING TO THE EAST IN THE AFTERNOON.
SUNDAY NIGHT AND MONDAY…SNOW LIKELY. LIGHT SNOW ACCUMULATIONS POSSIBLE. LOW IN THE MID 20S. HIGH IN THE LOWER 30S. CHANCE OF SNOW 60 PERCENT.
MONDAY NIGHT…CLOUDY WITH A 40 PERCENT CHANCE OF SNOW. LOW IN THE LOWER 20S.
AMES, Iowa – Feb. 21, 2013: 5 p.m. update – Iowa travel conditions are rapidly deteriorating in many areas of the state due to the advancing winter storm. Light to moderate snow continues to fall over southern and central Iowa, but an intensification of the storm is expected in the next few hours. A strong east wind is reducing visibility to one-quarter to one-half mile, especially in open areas. The Iowa Department of Transportation’s road condition report is listing most roads in southwest and south central Iowa as partially to mostly covered. For southeast Iowa, a break in the snow is expected to be short-lived as more snow is on its way. Iowa DOT road conditions in this quadrant of the state are shown as completely covered. For traveler information anytime, visit www.511ia.org, call 511 (within Iowa) or 800-288-1047 (nationwide).
…A WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL NOON CST FRIDAY…
* SHORT TERM TRENDS...MODERATE TO HEAVY SNOW WILL CONTINUE THROUGH THE AFTERNOON HOURS BEFORE BECOMING LIGHTER BY THIS EVENING. THE HEAVIEST ACCUMULATIONS WILL OCCUR THROUGH 6 PM CST TODAY. THE LIGHT SNOW IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE OVERNIGHT TONIGHT INTO THE EARLY MORNING HOURS FRIDAY BEFORE TAPERING OFF MID MORNING FRIDAY.
* STORM TOTAL SNOW ACCUMULATIONS...SNOW ACCUMULATIONS WILL RANGE FROM 6 TO 9 INCHES WITH LOCALLY HIGHER AMOUNTS POSSIBLE.
* WINDS/VISIBILITY...EASTERLY WINDS OF 15 TO 25 MPH WITH GUST NEAR 35 MPH WILL LEAD TO VISIBILITY OF LESS THAN ONE QUARTER MILE AT TIMES THROUGH THE EARLY EVENING. SNOWFALL RATES OF 1 TO 2 INCHES PER HOUR CAN BE EXPECTED THIS AFTERNOON. THE STRONG WINDS WILL SLOWLY DIMINISH LATER THIS EVENING.
* IMPACTS...THE COMBINATION OF THE HEAVY SNOW AND STRONG WINDS WILL CAUSE VISIBILITY OF LESS THAN ONE QUARTER MILE AT TIMES AND VERY HAZARDOUS TRAVEL CONDITIONS DUE TO ICY AND SNOW PACKED ROADS.
PERCIVAL, Iowa (AP) – Some motels are filling up ahead of a snowstorm that threatens to dump to a foot of snow in some parts of Iowa. Krista Tillman is manager of the Super 8 motel near Percival, just off Interstate 29 in the southwest corner of Iowa. Tillman said the snow had been falling for about 90 minutes but she’d rented out about 30 of her motel’s 45 rooms in the last 60 minutes. She expects to be sold out by 2 p.m., if not sooner.
A desk clerk at the nearby Americas Best Value Inn echoed Tillman, saying he expected his 80 rooms would be gone within a couple of hours.
The Boy Scout motto is “Be Prepared,” but it’s a slogan all Iowans would be wise to adopt as a major winter storm is about the whack the state. Liz Dorland, spokeswoman for the Red Cross chapter in Omaha/Council Bluffs, says all motorists should have an emergency kit in their vehicles, especially when a travel advisory is issued — like today. Dorland says the kit should include: blankets, clothing, waterproof boots, socks, hats, gloves and sand or non-clumping kitty litter for traction. You might also toss in a shovel.
Iowans who are staying at home would be smart to have another emergency kit assembled for the house, including many of the items in the vehicle’s kit. “Make sure you have extra food, bottled water, flashlights, extra batteries, a battery-powered radio would be great to have,” she says. Also, make sure to have a cell phone charger handy.
She says the agency is ready to open emergency shelters across Iowa in case of power outages or other emergencies as the storm nears.
Much of Iowa is under a Winter Storm Warning and by this afternoon, much of the state will also be under a half-foot of snow, with some areas expecting much more. National Weather Service meteorologist Miles Schumacher says the storm will arrive in southwest Iowa later this morning. Schumacher’s estimate for snowfall in inches: “Six to nine will be pretty common across the state, a little less in the far northwest, maybe three or four inches,” he says.
The Iowa DOT has issued a travel advisory as strong winds may whip up the snow and cause white-out conditions and deep drifts. At the peak of the storm this afternoon, snow may fall at the rate of two inches an hour. Schumacher says a second storm system is developing. “We’re watching another one and it could bring another significant round of snow to the state, either Monday or Tuesday, as it comes through,” he says. “It has quite a lot of similarities to this one. On the plus side, we definitely need the moisture so it’s good we’re getting at least something.”
Forecasters say today’s snow will start in southwest Iowa a bit later this morning, it should reach central Iowa by midday and eastern Iowa later in the afternoon.