Cold blast hits Marshalltown

With bitter winds at 30 to 40 below zero and high of 8 below zero, Marshalltown and surrounding schools closed their doors along with many residents to stay out of the cold Monday.

Liz Zuercher, Marshalltown Medical & Surgical Center spokesperson, said only was person was at the emergency room for a weather related injury that day.

“It sounds like people were heeding the warning to stay in or be very careful when they do go out,” Zuercher said. “It’s good people are being careful.”

Karen Frohwein, executive director of House of Compassion, said her facility wasn’t too busy either.

“We are business as usual here,” Frohwein said. “We’re not very busy but we are open and welcoming anyone that needs to come in and stay warm. I haven’t had many people come in today which is good.”

The residents have stayed warm, but Steve Sincox, CEO and general manager of Marshalltown Water Works, said he received five calls about frozen pipes and water meters.

“We’ve had calls this morning, those continue to keep coming in all day,” Sincox said. “It usually happens when the house does not have enough insulation. You’ll have doors or windows that aren’t sealed up in the basement, that’s when the pipes freeze.”

Sincox said water mains on the 400 block of Meadow Lane and the 800 block of North Fourth Avenue were broken, but fixed within a couple of hours.

If anyone has a frozen water pipe or meter, Sincox said to call a plumber or Marshalltown Water Works at 641-753-7913 right away.

Justin Foss, Alliant Energy spokesperson, said he received many calls asking if power sources were steady. Foss said cold weather itself does not cause power outages.

“If we do have an outage it does makes it tougher work to fix,” Foss said. “The guys have to be out in that to take care of it.”

However, Foss said, people should be wary of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. In the last week, Foss said he heard that more than a dozen of Iowans went to the hospital for CO poisoning. This often happens when people try to use alternate heating sources such as kerosene heaters or while using generators.

“(CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that displaces oxygen and so you don’t know that you’re suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning until you get big symptoms and you recognize its carbon monoxide poisoning,” Foss said.

CO poisoning symptoms are similar to flu symptoms.

“The biggest symptoms mix the flu,” Foss said. “Headache, nausea, vomiting, you’re kind of feeling weak, tired, things like that. The difference is there is no fever with carbon monoxide poisoning.”

The best way to be alerted to a CO problem is with a CO detector on every floor and by the bedrooms. Foss said, a CO detector can be purchased anywhere a smoke detector is sold.

Surprisingly, Harry Hillaker, state climatologist, said Monday was not the coldest day of the year.

“Christmas Eve was 19 below,” Hillaker said. “The temperature is not that unusual, but it is very windy.”

He said about once every five years Iowa will get really cold days, but it won’t last.

“The weather will slowly be improving,” Hillaker said.

According to the National Weather Service forecast, the temperature in Marshall County is expected to increase over the weekend starting Friday in the lower 20s.

Until then, Pat Thompson, Marshall County Public Health nurse said, to avoid the cold as much as possible.

“They say 10 minutes can lead to frost bite,” Thompson said. “If they’re trying to stay warm outdoors, we do know people that work outside, they must wear a mask on their face, wear cold weather clothes, dress in layers of light clothing, wear mittens rather than gloves, hats, scarves and water proof boots.”

She said to always watch for your neighbors.

“We need to watch out for our neighbors,” Thompson said. “If someone does fall, if they are out very long, that could be deadly or very dangerous too.”

Marshalltown schools will remain closed Tuesday and several area schools were also delaying and closing schools at press time. School cancelations are available online at by clicking on the closings and delays tab.