The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

February 2, 2011

Blizzard blankets heartland

Southern Iowans face hazardous driving conditions

OTTUMWA — Forecasters say blizzard conditions overnight mean snow totals between 13-21 inches for the Ottumwa area by this morning.

Officials recommend drivers go slow today and, if possible, avoid driving completely.

“Try to stay on the streets that are plowed. And depending on how you go you can avoid a lot of hills,” said Ottumwa Police Chief Jim Clark.

Don’t drive out of town, Clark added. But for those who do, he suggested they stay the night at their destinations while road conditions improve.

“Historically, when ever there’s a big storm like that, typically when it’s preceded by ice, we do tend to have more accidents,” Clark said. “Fortunately, most people are driving slow and fairly cautious. Usually they’re just minor, property damage only accidents.”

Accidents can be avoided if people just slow down, Clark said.

“If there’s ice on the street, just because the speed limit might be 25 or 30 [mph] doesn’t mean that’s what you go,” Clark said, adding that people should use their best judgment.

As of late Tuesday morning, Albia Police hadn’t had any accident reports, said Chief Jay Andrews.

“It seems like most people are using good sense and staying home,” Andrews said. “I imagine we will have a few before night is over.”

Andrews reminds drivers to be prepared for the worst.

“Before you leave your house, you need to be prepared to be stuck,” he said, that includes packing blankets, non-perishable food items, flashlights, a full tank of gas and water.

Andrews added that people need to realize that it might take law enforcement and emergency response crews extra time to respond in blizzard conditions.

As of noon Tuesday, Wapello County Sheriff’s officials had not responded to any accidents; Ottumwa Police reported two accidents. Mahaska County Sheriff’s deputies also responded to two accidents.

Between Monday night and noon Tuesday, Iowa State Patrol officers statewide investigated more than 100 crashes, responded to more than 210 calls for assistance and received more than  1,400 calls to the communication centers, according to the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

One option for those who don’t want to drive is Ottumwa’s bus service. Even in blizzard conditions, city buses in Ottumwa continue services, said OTA Director Pam Ward.

“We have delayed, we have run slow, but we’re out there,” said Ward. “There really just is not a day that we have ever canceled.”

Ward warned, though, that not all services run in heavy snow conditions.

“We have dispatches on hand that come in and start taking calls and addressing customer concerns about weather conditions,” she said. “Then we communicate back with drivers and figure out what services are reasonable to try to provide and what services we can’t.”

OTA bus drivers are trained in defensive driving and are refreshed with a course every year.

The buses are able to handle winter road conditions because extra tread and the vehicle weight allow them to better maneuver, Ward said.

Ward echoed others’ advice on driving on the snow.

“Take it easy. Slow and steady is the safest path to follow in days like today because once you get in a hurry that’s when those slick spots will sneak up and get you when you least expect it,” she said.

According to the National Weather Service, there will be areas of blowing snow and a chance of snow before noon today. Wind chill values today could get as low as minus 15 degrees, with winds between 15 and 24 mph. Thursday will be sunny with a high near 14 degrees.

Driving tips from the Iowa Department of Public Safety:

• Don’t speed

• Increase the distance from the car in front of you

• Keep an emergency kit in the vehicle with food, blankets and a charged phone.

• Keep the car well-maintained with inflated tires and a full tank of gas

Web Extras:

Text Only
Local News
  • Seasonal forecast Cool summer leading to cool fall? OTTUMWA — By late July, the average daytime high temperature starts to drop. What is normally the hottest part of the year is over. Averages are still in the mid-80s, and it certainly wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to see days in even the upper 90s.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Grant helps Hills keep students on track OTTUMWA — Thanks to a grant designed to improve graduation rates, Indian Hills Community College now has even more tools in its campuswide effort to help students with needs and give them the resources they need to stay in class. Indian Hills is one

    July 28, 2014

  • 0728 OTT ribs in eldon BBQ dinner with a hundred friends

    ELDON --- This year's Eldon Rib Cook-off was won by three BBQ chefs --- and about 150 hungry visitors. "I was down here last year, too," said Dwayne Yates from Floris, who was biting into his third smoked rib. "I never had a bad one yet." That's what

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mediacom: Rural cable consumers and companies mistreated OTTUMWA --- You may want to add just a racing channel, a court channel or a nature channel to your cable line up. Unfortunately, you'll probably have to buy a "bundle," which, ironically, is what it will cost you here in Wapello County. That's accord

    July 26, 2014

  • Alternate juror could not have convicted Techel based on evidence DAVENPORT — An alternate juror who was dismissed before Seth Techel, 23, of Agency was convicted of killing his wife and the non-consensual termination of a human pregnancy says the verdict could have been different if she had been in deliberations.D

    July 25, 2014

  • Overcome testing fear, get a good job OTTUMWA — It's not who you know, it's what you know. That's what City leaders say about getting a good paying job in Ottumwa. "It seems like in the last year we've had a real reduction in the number of individuals who've applied," said Joni Keith, hu

    July 25, 2014

  • Water Pollution Control Facility gets OK to upgrade OTTUMWA — An emergency Ottumwa City Council meeting resulted in spending $140,583 for the Water Pollution Control Facility. Friday afternoon, council members listened intently as Ottumwa Water Pollution Control Facility Superintendent Kam Reeves told

    July 25, 2014

  • Quincy Ave. project starts Aug. 4 OTTUMWA — Updates on the Quincy Avenue project was given to residents and businesses residing between Albia Road and Hwy. 34 on Thursday night at Ottumwa City Hall. About a dozen people attended the meeting where City Engineer Dan Sturm gave an updat

    July 25, 2014

  • Silence continues on fatal shooting OTTUMWA — Law enforcement is exercising its right to remain silent about a shooting death that occurred south of town this week. The Wapello County Sheriff's Office, which had responded to the shooting, said most information on the case would now com

    July 25, 2014

  • 0726 OTT cedar creek Gone in a flash

    BLOOMFIELD — Bob Parker got about as close to lightning as you can Friday morning, and came out of it without injury. A line of thunderstorms started moving through southeast Iowa in the early morning hours. Parker was heading to work at about 7 a.m.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

Photo reprints