21st-Century Winter in Bremer County
Bremer County, Iowa
Given the history of winter storms in Bremer County, the individuals and agencies who created the 2017 Hazard Mitigation Plan for Bremer County, a plan approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), address the hazards of winter storms in their plan. The severe winter storm conditions at the center of their analysis are blizzard, cold or wind chill, heavy snow, ice storm, and some combination of these that they just call winter storm. Though most of us might use these words rather loosely, the plan is quite specific. For example, a blizzard is defined as “a winter storm [that] last[s] at least 3 hours which produces sustained winds or frequent gusts 35 mph or greater and falling and/or blowing snow reducing visibility to less than ¼ mile.”
The risks of severe winter storms are well understood: “immobilized transportation systems, downed trees and power lines, collapsed buildings, loss of livestock and wildlife.” And of course conditions such as frostbite and hypothermia are dangers to people, especially the elderly and the very young. Between 1996 and 2015, 56 winter storms in Bremer County caused property and crop damage estimated at $1.5 million. With weather advisories from the National Weather Service, most winter storms may now be more an inconvenience than a danger. Nevertheless, the report warns that they can be unpredictable and more threatening than anticipated.
That said, Bremer County recorded no severe winter storms in 2004, 2006, and 2011.
Source: on line: “2017 Updated Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan for Bremer County, Iowa.”