Travel through Iowa turned hazardous Thursday as a blizzard blew snow onto roadways and reduced visibility, leading to a massive traffic pileup west of Newton that closed eastbound Interstate 80.
The strong northwest winds — gusting up to 47 mph in Cedar Rapids — also brought in arctic air and sent temperature plunging.
At 7 p.m., the temperature in Cedar Rapids had fallen to 14 degrees — down from 34 degrees in the morning — and was on its way to below zero overnight. The wind chill was minus 10.
Lows below zero are expected through the Valentine’s Day weekend — snuggle up — into next early next week, with the possibility of more snow.
Winds were expected to diminish overnight.
On Thursday, Marion locations reported 6 inches of new snow — on top of the 6 to 10 inches already on the ground, according to the National Weather Service. Cedar Rapids locations reported 4 to 5 inches of snow, with Iowa City and North Liberty reporting 3.5 to 4 inches.
The I-80 chain-reaction crash in central Iowa involved around 40 vehicles and closed the interstate’s eastbound lanes for hours.
Two Iowa State Patrol troopers were on that section of the interstate assisting with multicar crashes shortly before noon when the larger pileup happened.
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Several serious injuries were reported, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation. The two state troopers were not injured.
Pictures of the crash showed several semi-trailer trucks sideways across the interstate and at least six semi-trailer trucks off the road.
The Associated Press contributed.