Iowa is grieving and recovering this evening from undoubtedly the worst winter storm of the season. The Des Moines Register is reporting that seven people, including two sisters ages 13 and 17, were lost today in weather-related vehicle accidents.
The first occurred earlier this morning in Winneshiek county around 8:30 a.m. involving four teenagers, ages 13, 14, 15, and 17, according to the Register. The vehicle reportedly lost control, crossed the center line and slid sideways, striking a 2008 Ford F-150. Avery Arneson, 17, and Aiden Arneson, 13, both of Decorah, were killed as a result, with the 14 and 15-year-old also injured. Police suspected weather played a role in the accident.
In a press release delivered this afternoon, the Cedar Rapids Police Department reported an accident along Interstate 380 past the Highway 30 exit just past 11:22 a.m. this morning. A 2007 Mercury Montego left the roadway, striking a pillar support of a bridge overpass. Three adult males were in the vehicle. Two of those occupants were pronounced dead on the scene, with another transported to UnityPoint-St. Luke’s Hospital with serious injuries.
Just past the noon hour, a massive pile-up occurred on Interstate 35 around and near Ames. According to the Register, one person died and several others were critically injured in the pile-up, which reportedly involved as many as 75 vehicles. This shut down a large portion of I-35 from the noon hour to this evening while authorities cleared the roadway. The Register noted, “The crash had traffic backed up on the highway so far that Story County sheriff’s Capt. Barry Thomas said he could not see from one end to the other.”
One other crash was reported at 1:20 p.m. on Interstate 80 near mile marker 191 near Grinnell, killing one, and another at around 1:40 p.m. in Durant, killing one and injuring two, again according to the Register.
Over eight inches of snow fell in some areas, with Wapello receiving the top amount of 8.2 inches. Ames saw seven inches, with Des Moines receiving six. Winter Weather Advisories were posted for 83 out of Iowa’s 99 counties, with forecasts calling for as much as four-to-six inches for the heaviest areas. While wind was relatively light, snowfall rates were over an inch per hour for many areas in the form of a fine, light, and dry snow — quickly reducing visibilities and covering roads. This led to travel difficulties during the afternoon and evening hours, impacting high traveled portions of Interstates 35, 80, and 380.
The Iowa Weather Network extends our thoughts and prayers to those affected by these events today.
This is an ongoing event. Information will be updated as received.