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Winter’s first blast arrives early

By Staff | Dec 11, 2009

The backs of these Milford-area Simmental-cross calves are packed with snow as they pay a visit to the feed bunk Wednesday morning. Winter storms create extra challenges for producers in managing livestock — especially having plenty of feed and unfrozen water available.

DES MOINES (AP) – Hundreds of motorists were stranded on Iowa roads Tuesday and Wednesday as a dangerous snow storm made roads in some spots impassable.

Winter’s fury arrived early as the season does not officially start until Dec. 21.

Courtney Greene, a spokeswoman with the Iowa Department of Transportation, said hundreds of motorists were stranded overnight Tuesday and Wednesday morning. Many have been rescued, but Greene says dozens remain stranded Wednesday morning and are waiting in blizzard conditions for help to arrive.

She said several motorists were stranded on both sides of 10-foot drifts that cross Iowa Highway 6 between Council Bluffs and Oakland in southwest Iowa.

Greene noted that depending on the circumstances, stranded motorists waited upward to two hours or longer before crews could reach them.

She said state troopers went out with Iowa National Guard soldiers in Humvees to assist stranded motorists.

Iowa closed part of I-80, pulls plows from I-35

Iowa DOT spokeswoman Dena Gray-Fisher said a 37-mile stretch of I-80, starting in Des Moines and headed east, was closed due to becoming impassable late Tuesday night. The DOT also closed an 18-mile stretch of I-80 just east of Newton at about 6 a.m. Wednesday.

On 1-35, a 15-mile stretch ending with an intersection near Ames was shut down around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Gray-Fisher said plows were pulled off I-35 from just north of Des Moines to the Minnesota border because the freeway was impassible due to blowing snow.

Travel was not advised through much of Iowa.

Power outages

MidAmerican Energy said Wednesday afternoon that upward to 5,800 clients were without power. Alliant Energy also outages that left 4,200 customers without power.

Getting service back on line would be a gradual process, said a release from MidAmerican, because crews would not be sent out as long as driving conditions were dangerous.

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