Public Safety

Iowa City, Cedar Rapids to get 3-5 inches of snow, 1/10th inch of ice this weekend

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If you love snow, ice and bitter wind chill, this is the weekend for you.

The Iowa City and Cedar Rapids areas started getting hit with a little bit of it all about noon Friday. It isn’t expected to relent until 6 p.m. Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

Winter conditions this week brought about the first snow days of the school year for many area districts — including College Community, Cedar Rapids Community and Iowa City Community. Many weekend events were canceled due to the storm, including postponement of Saturday’s Women’s March in Iowa City.

Tim Gross, a weather service meteorologist, said this storm was expected to drop 3 to 5 inches of snow before capping off with a mix of snow and freezing rain.

Ice accumulations are expected to be less than one-tenth of an inch, he said, but that’s enough to create some trouble.

“That’s going to fall on top of the snow and kind of crust the snow over,” Gross said. “So that can cause some problems on the roads and so forth.”

The wintry mix will last until about 6 a.m. Saturday when an even colder front moves in and changes the precipitation. It’ll be a light snow, but wind gusts are anticipated.

By Friday evening’s rush hour, the Iowa Department of Transportation had deployed 519 plows across the state. Municipal crews also planned to work through the night, or take a break and start before dawn.

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By Saturday morning, “very strong northwest winds gusting to 40 to 45 mph will lead to blowing and drifting snow with greatly reduced visibility,” according to a weather service winter storm warning. “These winds will combine with falling temperatures to produce wind chills down to 10 below zero to 20 below zero during the evening hours Saturday.”

The silver lining? The ice atop previous snowfalls should keep that from blowing, leaving only the freshly fallen snow to be tossed around, Gross said.

Gross said Sunday will bring a break from the precipitation, but not the cold. Temperatures are expected to reach only the single digits.

School officials such as Steve Doser hope the storm isn’t a harbinger of another winter like 2019 — when weather canceled or partially canceled school in some districts across Iowa on more than a dozen days.

After so many cancellations, Doser, whose recorded voice announces snow days to thousands of College Community School District families, became something of a folk hero — or villain.

More than 2,500 people are members of a “Steve Doser Fanpage” group on Facebook that was resurrected this week as parents received early morning phone calls, lightly referred to as “doses of Doser.”

“He’s back!!!” one parent posted Jan. 10.

Many schools already are planning not to have class Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and temperatures aren’t expected to climb above freezing until the latter half the week.

Comments: (319) 339-3155; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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