‘This is historic snow’: Iowa could see up to 15 inches of snow as major winter storm blankets the Midwest

Doyle Rice


A blockbuster snowstorm continued to hit portions of the central and northeastern U.S. Tuesday, causing travel headaches and closing some coronavirus testing sites.

Weather service meteorologist Taylor Nicolaisen said 10 to 15 inches of snow was likely between York, Nebraska, and Des Moines, Iowa, by the time the storm wraps up later Tuesday.

It has been at least 15 years since that area received more than a foot of snow in a single storm. “This is historic snow,” said Nicolaisen, who is based near Omaha, Nebraska.

More than 14 inches had already fallen in parts of eastern Nebraska by the morning, leading to early closures of several coronavirus testing sites in the state as well as Iowa.

In Lincoln, the two-day snowfall total is at 14.8 inches and “a bit more may fall by the end of the day,” the weather service said Tuesday morning. “That puts it at the second biggest two-day event on record,” the weather service tweeted. 

The last comparable snowfall hit the area in November 2018, when 8.4 inches fell.

Travel conditions will remain hazardous along the Interstate 80 and 90 corridors of the Midwest and will expand over the same corridors of the Northeast on Tuesday, AccuWeather said. Cities such as Albany, New York, and Hartford, Connecticut, were expecting snow.

Chicago warned residents that hazardous conditions are likely Tuesday and some power outages are possible. City officials have dispatched about 280 salt spreaders to clear main streets and have created warming centers in libraries and park facilities for residents who have no power or heat. 

Gary, Indiana, Mayor Jerome Prince declared a snow emergency, restricting where vehicles can park and prohibiting the pushing of snow from private property onto city streets. Prince also closed city-owned buildings and facilities until Wednesday.

In Nebraska, officials urged drivers to stay off the roads. Nebraska State Patrol troopers responded to more than 200 weather-related incidents Monday.

“Do not travel unless it’s absolutely necessary,” Nebraska State Patrol Col. John Bolduc.

Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Alex Dinkla said numerous vehicles slid off roads in central Iowa.

“The big thing that people are seeing is that this snow system is packing a big punch,” Dinkla said to the Des Moines Register. “As we have seen this system move into Iowa, the road conditions go from zero snow on the road to an immediate totally covered roadway in just a matter of minutes.”

Missouri officials urged drivers not to travel on Interstates 29 and 35 in northwest Missouri into Iowa. The agency said most roads in the area were covered with snow.

“If northern Missouri or Iowa are part of your travel plan, please reroute or find a warm, safe place to wait out the storm,” the Missouri Transportation Department said.

The storm system will continue moving east through Wednesday before moving offshore, the weather service said.

In the Southwest, a separate storm was forecast to bring wind gusts and snowfall on Tuesday, the weather service said, especially in portions of Arizona and Utah. “The higher elevations will likely have heavy snow with this system, possibly yielding a foot or more of accumulations,” the weather service said. “Travel through this part of the country may be hazardous.”

Yet another storm was forecast to barrel into California later Tuesday into Wednesday, the weather service said. This “atmospheric river” storm will bring the threat of downpours, which could unleash destructive debris flows from wildfire burn scars as well as a heavy dump of snow in the Sierra Nevada.

Snow in California: After snow in Malibu, US braces for series of wintry storms in coming days


Snow in Southern California; another storm coming

Up to a foot of snow fell in Southern California’s mountains as the first in a series of storms brought real winter weather after weeks of sporadic rain that did little to ease drought. Winter weather is expected further north later this week. (Jan. 25)


Contributing: The Associated Press

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