What meteorologists are calling a Polar Vortex continues to plague the area today. However, the phenomenon is leaving, albeit slowly. A polar vortex usually forms thousands of feet up in the air above the Artic Circle and generates very low temperatures and strong winds. The vortex can make its way below the artic circle if it is displaced by warmer air. The main thrust of the vortex will begin to leave the area making way for warmer conditions beginning tomorrow.
A wind chill warning for North Iowa remains in effect until noon today, however. Most area public schools will have a two-hour late start today, including Algona, Belmond-Klemme, CAL, Central Springs, Charles City, Clear Lake, CWL, Forest City, Garner-Hayfield, Hampton-Dumont, Lake Mills, Mason City, North Butler, North Iowa, RRMR, St. Ansgar, Ventura, West Fork and West Hancock. School districts are hoping for slightly warmer conditions for students although the wind chill will remain in the -30 range for the better part of the morning.
In Forest City, school busses are prepared in case of emergency, for the cold weather. The busses are worked on inside a barn where the busses are also kept. “We shouldn’t have any starting problems with the busses and no one needs to go down to the facility in the middle of the night to make sure the busses are charged and ready to start.” said Darwin Lehmann, Forest City Community Schools Superintendent. He encourages parents to make sure though, that students are prepared to go out into the cold today to attend school.
City crews were out in force yesterday, trying to scrape off snow from the residential roads. The hope was to give emergency personnel and school busses better roads to work with for the morning commute on Tuesday. Almost all businesses were open throughout the city, even though traffic was light. Some business owners and managers said that the number of people shopping yesterday was much lighter than in days past.
Alliant Energy reported that approximately 1,200 customers in North Iowa were without electricity for just over an hour on Monday morning. The company said the outage began around 5:15 a.m.. Customers in Belmond, Klemme,Meservey, Goodell, Alexander, and Thornton were without power until 6:45 a.m. when company officials said they had restored it.
There were water main breaks in Forest City on J Street on Friday and in Mason City near Graham Manufacturing on Monday. Officials are blaming the line breaks on the cold weather in the area. Crews will be monitoring the situation again today for any potential problems.