Local road crews battling winter storm
This first winter storm of the season has a name — Draco, according to weather.com website affiliated with Weather Channel TV.
Information there says this storm is closing interstates and canceling flights throughout the Midwest.
In Fairfield, the storm brought thunder, lightning and rain overnight. Rain turned to snow here at about 7 a.m. today, quickly covering parked cars.
Darrel Bisgard, Fairfield Streets Department superintendent, said city trucks went out shortly after 7 a.m. today.
“We have three sanders that covered routes, then at 11 a.m. we started plowing,” he said. “We have six plow trucks, one pickup truck plow and one motor grader. It’s all out, everyone is out working.
“I figure we’ll finish around 5 p.m., but then we’ll come back tonight.
“Please tell everyone to move parked cars from around the square because we’ll be working there and hauling snow away from around the square,” said Bisgard.
“In fact, any parked cars on streets should be moved so we can do a better job of plowing.”
Jefferson County snowplows began work early this morning, with a total of 18 vehicles out working, said county engineer Scott Cline.
“We have seven graders blading roads and other trucks plowing and spreading a mixture of sand and salt,” he said.
“Each driver is assigned specific roads to clear, and all my employees are out now,” Cline said about 11:30 a.m. today.
The county workers will re-plow their assigned areas as long as the snow flies today. Work typically begins on the paved roads and spreads out from there.
“We don’t really have that much pavement in the county,” said Cline. “The rate of snow falling right now isn’t too bad. The problem is the wind, it can create drifts. The county road workers know their areas and know from which way the wind is blowing how to take care of the road.”
Cline said he went out driving around recently, checking on plowed roads.
“Even those mostly covered in snow, you can still see the line where the plow had already been,” he said.
He said county plows will likely work most of today.
“We’ll have some overtime, they’ll come in at nightfall or sooner if the snow stops before night time. Again, the blowing wind might cause problems.
Warnings and advisories are posted on Iowa Department of Transportation’s website.
Highway 1 has an advisory not to travel, listing sections of the highway including Keosauqua to Brighton to Washington, Iowa, which includes the portion of Highway 1 that goes through Fairfield.
A second advisory on IDOT’s travel information website says travel is not advised on Highway 1 from 2 miles south of Keosauqua to the Kalona area. It adds that visibility is reduced, and towing services are prohibited at the most recent update at 11:35 a.m. today.
The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office also advises that travel is not recommended in Van Buren County.
Zero visibility whiteout conditions and strong gusting winds are causing semi trucks to be blown off the roadways, according to the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office, requesting everyone stay off the roadways.
A “No Travel” advisory remains in effect for all of Iowa, due to life-threatening blizzard conditions until midnight in D.O.T. District 5 including the counties of Warren, Marion, Mahaska, Keokuk, Washington, Muscatine, Louisa, Clarke, Lucas, Monroe, Wapello, Jefferson, Henry, Des Moines, Decatur, Wayne, Appanoose, Davis, Van Buren and Lee.
Very strong winds are likely to continue until midnight with whiteout conditions at times and significant drifting.
The National Weather Services is forecasting 6 to 14 inches of snow by this afternoon, with the higher totals expected along an axis from just east of Atlantic to Des Moines to Waterloo. At 8:30 a.m. today, snow was falling at a rate of 1 to 2 inches per hour.
If you must travel, take your mobile phone and winter survival supplies. If you become stranded, stay with your vehicle and call 911.
Call 511 within Iowa or 800-288-1047 outside the state or visit the website www.511ia.org for road information.