The area is experiencing a blizzard that couldn’t have come at a worse time for many local travelers. The National Weather Service issued a Hazardous Travel Timing report that outlines when they believe conditions will become impossible for area travel. The northern Iowa report states that open and rural will be especially susceptible to the worst of conditions, and travel may be virtually impossible at times.
The report encompasses an area from Mason City to Algona and onward to Estherville. Thursday from 12am to 6am roads will deteriorate leading into 6am to noon where they believe there will be major issues with the roads. From Thursday at noon to Saturday at noon, the situation will be extremely dangerous for travel. The situation will begin to improve at that time and by Christmas Eve evening, crews should have the roads returning back to normal.
The National Weather Service forecast travel report sees the same problems for the central and southern parts of the state during the same time frames.
State, county and city snowplows are gassed up and ready to roll as this winter storm rages. Hamilton County Engineer Ryan Weidemann says their snow patrol is ready to tackle the roads, though the heavy snow and strong winds could create a challenge.
Hancock and Winnebago County Emergency Manager Andy Buffington strongly encourages those who do travel to let someone know that you are leaving and what time you are doing so. Then call them back to let them know they arrived.
Tim Zahn, the Hamilton County Emergency Management director, says Iowans need to heed the warnings and cancel or postpone their travel plans.
Make sure to have the appropriate winter gear in the car in the event of a roadside emergency. The kit should include things like: blankets, water and snacks, a flashlight with fresh batteries, tools, a shovel, an ice scraper, jumper cables, sand and a first aid kit.