Sudden spring storm surprises local officials

Marshalltown area residents awoke Friday morning to the sounds of snow blowers and snow plow blades grinding against pavement to remove a heavy and wet snow deposited by a quick moving storm.

The Marshalltown Water Works reported late Friday afternoon that 1.5 inches of snow fell on the city, with much of it accumulating in the early morning hours.

A winter weather advisory was in effect for much of the state.

In rural areas, high winds caused blowing and drifting, resulting in hazardous travel conditions.

Marshall County Engineer Paul Geilenfeldt said he and crews noticed many cars off roadways due to the thick and slushy snow.

“We noticed more cars in the ditch resulting from this storm than from others this past winter,” he said.

Geilenfeldt said he was surprised at how much snow was received.

“We were watching the forecast, and it appeared it was going to stay west of us … we expected some measurable accumulations but not as much as we did get.”

Geilenfeldt said county crews had been in the process of modifying trucks and equipment from winter to

summertime use.

Fortunately, a number of trucks had necessary equipment to plow county roads.

By midafternoon Friday, Geilenfeldt said he was pleased with the progress crews had made.

Lonnie Hogeland, of Hogeland Auto Plaza in Marshalltown, said the storm resulted in a significant amount of service calls to his business.

“My employee, Jeff Osgood, and I have been towing vehicles or pulling them out of the ditch since six this morning and at 3:30 p.m., we have one more to do,” he said.

Hogeland said many of the service calls were to vehicles and semis near Highway U.S. 30, Iowa Highway 14 and Iowa Highway 175.

Marshalltown did not implement its snow ordinance, although it had the authority to do so despite the May date.

“The Street Department makes the call on implementing the snow ordinance,” said Marshalltown Capt. Mike Hanken, with the Marshalltown Police Department.

He said city officials were caught somewhat off guard by the storm’s severity.

“We didn’t expect as much snow, nor did we expect it to accumulate,” he said.

Regardless, only a few minor collisions were reported.

Marshalltown and area schools remained open, with the exception of Eldora-New Providence.

Lifelong Marshalltown resident Pat Apgar, 90, said the snow storm may have been a first for May.

“We had a severe storm around April 10, 1998, but I don’t recall one like this in May,” he said. “My memories of May are dancing around the may pole in summer clothes.”

The National Weather Service predicted a 50 percent chance of rain Saturday and Sunday. However, north, northeast winds of 14 to 18 mph, with gusts as high as 28 mph will keep temperatures well below normal on Saturday. A warming trend will begin Sunday with highs into the 50s. Seasonal weather is expected to return Monday with a high near 66.