Blizzard paralyzes Northeast Iowa

By Shelia Tomkins

The most brutal weather of the season arrived in Northeast Iowa on Sunday, Jan.  26, in the form of a blizzard that shut down travel in the area.

With sustained winds in the 20-40 mile per hour range, and gusts in excess of that, the approximately 4-5 inches of snow that fell Saturday evening into Sunday morning was whipped into white-out conditions, causing poor visibility and major problems for travelers. 

The National Weather Service defines a blizzard as a storm which contains large amounts of snow or blowing snow, with winds in excess of 35 mph and visibilities of less than 1/4 mile for an extended period of time (at least three hours). 

The blizzard arrived in Clayton County late Sunday afternoon, leading to a blizzard warning in effect until midnight Sunday, and a windchill warning until midnight on Tuesday. 

On Sunday evening officials closed some major roads due to drifting and issued no-tow bans. Highway 128 between Elkader and Garnavillo was impassable Sunday evening, as was Highway 20 between Jesup and Dubuque.

By Monday morning winds had moderated, but temperatures plunged due to an advancing Arctic cold front. Monday's highs were expected to be approximately -7°, with an overnight low estimated at -21°.  Daytime highs were not expected to recover until after Tuesday.

Clayton Ridge Community School, along with almost every school district in Eastern Iowa, was closed for the day on Monday, Jan. 27, marking the sixth day school has been cancelled here this season. There have also been two late starts and two early dismissals at Clayton Ridge due to the weather. 

Drifting in rural areas caused major problems, with drifts reported as high as five feet.

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