The Intermittent Persistence of Blizzards
While the globe as a whole warms in the twenty-first century and the Arctic ice, once impassable by ship, now melts creating wide lanes of open water, blizzards still occur in the winter in the middle of the North American continent, far from the tempering effects of ocean winds but vulnerable to a polar vortex tipped southward away from the North Pole. These days a person in Humboldt County might check their winter temperatures against those much further north in Alaska and find they are getting the worst of winter.
February 23, 2019, 13WHOtv warned that a blizzard was making travel impossible for the western half of the state including Humboldt County. While in counties west of Humboldt visibility was so bad due to blowing snow that even the state’s snowplows were pulled from the roads, in Humboldt, Kossuth, Hamilton and Wright counties in north central Iowa and even parts of Pocahontas and Calhoun counties, the official designation of road conditions was simply “impassable.” Visibility was less than ¼ mile, not enough distance for one fast-moving vehicle to stop when it comes upon a slow-moving or stalled vehicle in front of it—a circumstance nineteenth century residents did not experience!
Along lines of the storm over 8 inches of snow was expected in some areas. The once unusual “thunder snow” played a role. “Thunder snow has allowed for heavier snowfall to set up in these areas” of expected heaviest accumulation.
Even after the snowstorm with its thunder snow moved on, roads the following day were expected to remain impassable as “strong steady winds” of 25-35 miles per hour continued to blow. Open rural areas would be especially susceptible to white-out conditions.
Source: on-line: Amber Alexander, “Blizzard Making Travel Impossible in Parts of Iowa,” 13WHOtv, February 23, 2019.