Snow Storm Blankets Eastern Iowa

KCRG/The Gazette/Waterloo Courier Staff Reports

City of Cedar Rapids snow plows head down 8th Ave SE in Cedar Rapids on Friday, January 19, 2011. (Cliff Jette/SourceMedia Group)

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By Aaron Hepker

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Eastern Iowans are digging out from the latest snow storm to hit the area. Many schools either let students out early, or simply did not have class as the storm moved in Friday. Poor road conditions have been reported across much of east-central and northeastern Iowa. And flights schedules have been affected at area airports.

Crashes Snarling Traffic on Interstate 380, Interstate 80
Traffic was reduced to one lane on northbound Interstate 380 through downtown Cedar Rapids as the result of a multi-car accident.

The crash was between Quaker Oats and the H Avenue exit. Traffic is down to one lane in the area. Motorists are being asked to consider alternate routes.

Another crash, on Interstate 80 near West Branch, also reportedly involves numerous vehicles, including at least one semi.

Cedar Rapids Road Crews Fight Losing Battle

Cedar Rapids road crews fought a losing battle with Mother Nature. Public Works Maintenance Manager Craig Hanson said the snow was falling at about half an inch per hour Friday morning. According to Hanson, it's hard for crews to keep up because the snow was falling so quickly. About forty city snow removal vehicles were on the road.

Several flights to and from Chicago and Minneapolis at the Cedar Rapids airport were canceled at mid-day Friday.

Waterloo Under Snow Emergency

The City of Waterloo declared this morning that a snow emergency is in effect until noon Saturday.

Cars must not be parked on streets which have been signed and designated as snow routes during a snow emergency. Residents are encouraged to move cars off streets to allow snow removal crews to clear city streets. Police will enforce violations of the 48-hour parking ordinance to facilitate snow removal. Vehicles parked on the street must be moved every 48 hours.

Motorists are reminded that trucks spread salt and sand, and to maintain a safe distance -- 50 feet --- from snowplows. The city asks drivers be courteous and allow city crews to do their work safely.

Snow began falling in Waterloo before 6 a.m.

Administrators across Northeast Iowa, faced with possibly bringing students to school for just a few hours, decided instead to cancel classes today. As of 6:30 a.m., those school districts included Cedar Falls, Waterloo, North Butler, Dunkerton, Wapsie Valley, Independence, Janesville, Oelwein, Aplington, Charles City and Denver. Hawkeye Community College also shut down for the day.

Waterloo police reported fewer than normal weather-related accidents thanks to school not being in session.

Dubuque Police Expecting Increase in Crashes During Commute
The snow in Dubuque made for slick road conditions both on the main roads and many of the side streets.

Police asked drivers to use caution on all streets but especially along Dubuque's hills. Those roads are very dangerous when snow covered. Police say they've responded to eight crashes since midnight. Police expect an increase in crashes during the evening commute.

Crashes Reported in Johnson County

Iowa City Police Sgt. Denise Brotherton said they’ve had a quiet morning, with just three minor collision accidents since 8 a.m. The accidents caused only property damage, with no injuries, she said.
Iowa City saw light snow on and off this morning, with a dusting of accumulation by midday.

Johnson County Sheriff’s officers dealt with about a dozen minor accidents and vehicles that slid off roadways by about 12:30 p.m. Friday, according to Major Steve Dolezal. Those incidents were primarily in the east and northeast section of the county, he said.
People knew the storm was coming and did a good job preparing, Dolezal said.
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