First major snowfall of the season

By Ron Slechta
Posted 1/4/22

East Central Iowa got its first measurable snowfall of the winter on New Year’s Day. The area got six to seven inches of snow, far short of the up to 12 inches that was predicted in the storm …

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First major snowfall of the season

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East Central Iowa got its first measurable snowfall of the winter on New Year’s Day. The area got six to seven inches of snow, far short of the up to 12 inches that was predicted in the storm that lasted all day on Jan. 1.

“Obviously we had our first accumulation of snow this weekend. Staff did a really wonderful job,” said Kalona City Administrator Ryan Schlabaugh at the Kalona City Council meeting on Jan. 3. “They were very proactive in trying to stay ahead of it when it was lighter, making sure we kept those critical routes open, kept EMS and fire lots available to be parked in. Later in the afternoon… they came in full force.”

Mayor Mark Robe said city staff worked between 12 and 12 and a half hours on Saturday and Sunday to handle the accumulated snow.

Kalona declared a “snow emergency” using KCII radio and social media to notify people.  Kalona’s snow emergency ordinance means that all vehicles most not be parked on any city streets.

“We declared a snow emergency for this one,” said Schlabaugh. “With the time that was out there and the almost certainty of getting hit, we did declare an emergency. Personally, with it being the first snow of the year I just wanted to also remind folks to move vehicles.”

“People do a good job for the most part and this snowfall was no exception.  Just a few that we had to work around,” he noted.

“Late morning Saturday, we brought in one staff member to keep the emergency areas opened up and our emergency services lots cleared,” he related.  “Late afternoon we brought in all staff to begin the snow removal process.  Staff worked past midnight, and we had a small crew come in Sunday morning to make sure drifting areas were opened up.”

He said that Monday morning at 6:00 a.m. two staff members went through the downtown to work on additional clean up from sidewalk clearings as well as push back areas where cars were parked during snow removal.

“As far as ‘snow emergency’ goes, we have not used this much, as our ordinance is that cars need to be off the streets during snow accumulation.  It has worked fairly well in the past but with this being the first snow we went with the snow emergency to gauge how it worked,” Schlabaugh added.

Because the snowstorm was on Saturday, city and county crews were able to have roads cleared so that schools were able to start on time Monday.

Lone Tree also declared a snow emergency. The Lone Tree snow emergency ordinance states that a snow emergency may be declared anytime there is more than four or more inches of snow. It allows for the towing of vehicles left in the streets.  The city can also declare a snow emergency if the snow is combined with ice and/or high winds.

Wellman also declared a snow emergency. 

“We didn’t have any issues with removal besides the usual street parking and parking lot parking,” said Wellman City Administrator Kelly Litwiller. “Our guys came in around 4 pm on Saturday and worked until about 9 p.m. Saturday, but we felt things went well.”

“Sunday there was some touch up to do,” Litwiller added.  “Tuesday they put down some product to hopefully get the warmer temps and sun to melt snow left on the streets, and then scraped the slop up.”

“Overall, the first large snow fall went well,” she stated.

Wellman’s Snow Emergency ordinance states a snow emergency goes into effect any time there is two inches of snow or more. However, the Mayor can declare a snow emergency based on predicted snow, ice or freezing rain.

The snow emergency ends 24 hours after precipitation stops.  Wellman doesn’t allow parking on any city streets except in downtown business district between 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.  Cars left parked on streets during snow emergency are subject to being towed.

Riverside did not declare a snow emergency.

“We had about 6 inches of snow,” noted Riverside City Administrator Christine Yancey. “Everything went smoothly. Snow was pushed back to the curb and city crews are picking up piles today. There weren’t any major issues with cars on the street.”

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