Winter returns to Washington

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


About 5 inches of snow dropped on Washington beginning shortly before noon Monday as a winter storm swept through Iowa causing at least six deaths statewide and a chain-reaction crash near Ames involving over 50 vehicles.

National Weather Service estimated that an inch an hour was accumulating in some parts of the state. And while the snowfall was predicted to end by late Monday, it also was forecast to start again Tuesday evening, dropping between 1 and 3 inches, the worst expected along or to the south of Interstate 80.

The National Weather Service station in the Quad Cities forecasts very cold wind chills of 10 below, to over 20 below zero will occur at times through mid-morning. Patchy dense fog, reducing visibilities down to a quarter mile or less, also will occur through mid-morning especially in river valleys and low lying areas. This fog may deposit a thin coating of ice and produce slick surfaces, especially on bridges and overpasses. More accumulating snow will occur across most of the Outlook area tonight. While most areas will just receive an inch or two of new snow accumulation by Wednesday morning, higher amounts of 2 to 4 inches will occur generally along and south of a line from Keosauqua, to Monmouth, Illinois. A Winter Weather Advisory has been issued for these higher snow amount areas for tonight.

In Washington County, 17 accidents were reported, according to the Washington County call log. At 1 p.m. a vehicle was reported in the ditch on G36 near Highway 218. No damage was reported to the vehicle. At 1:10 p.m. a red truck reportedly drove into the ditch in the 2000 block of Highway 218 in Ainsworth. An officer responded, but was diverted to a multiple vehicle accident. An accident involving three vehicles was reported at 1:18 p.m. in the 2700 block of Highway 22 in Riverside. Over $1,500 damage was reported to the vehicles. Washington County Ambulance was disregarded.

A truck reportedly rear-ended an Iowa DOT truck in the northbound lane of Highway 218 at Vine Avenue in Ainsworth. No injuries were reported. No citation was issued. A red Chevy Equinox was reported in the ditch in the 1700 block of Highway 22 in Wellman. An officer responded. The vehicle was towed. A rear-end accident was reported at 1:30 p.m. at Highway 1 and 190th Street in Washington. No injuries were reported. An accident was reported at Highway 22 and Palm Avenue in Kalona. No injuries were reported.

At 3:23 p.m. a caller reported hitting the bridge in the 3200 block of Highway 22 in Riverside. The incident was documented. A two-vehicle accident was reported in the southbound lane of Highway 218 at the Highway 92 ramp in Ainsworth. No injuries were reported. The Iowa State Patrol handled the accident.

At 4:39 p.m. a semi was reported blocking both lanes of traffic at 3112 Highway 92 in Ainsworth. The semi was able to get moved and no accident was reported. At 5:22 p.m. several vehicles were reported struck and blocking the area at 140th Street and Vine Avenue in Riverside. At 5:47 p.m. a deputy reported being out at 220th and Quince in Washington with a vehicle in the ditch. The vehicle was not occupied. A red Chevy Cobalt was also reported in the ditch at 5:54 at 2875 220th Street in Ainsworth.

A parked car was reported hit with a snow plow at 7:34 p.m. at 214 Eighth Avenue in Wellman. Under $1,500 damage was reported. An officer reported at 8:08 p.m. being out with a vehicle in the ditch at 2525 Highway 1 in Washington. No injuries. The vehicle was towed.

A caller reported his vehicle had slid into the ditch at 2746 Highway 1 in Washington at 8:13. The vehicle was towed. A traffic accident was reported at Highway 1 and 200th Street in Washington. The Iowa State Patrol handled the accident.

This morning a semi was reported blocking traffic at Highway 218 and the Highway 92 ramp in Ainsworth at 4:37 a.m. No accident was reported and the trailer had slid sideways. An officer and the Ainsworth Fire Chief responded. The semi was removed.

On Monday, Washington Schools dismissed at 12:30 p.m. Today there was a two-hour late start.

Many severe accidents were reported throughout Iowa.

A ?Dancing with the Stars Live! Light Up The Night? show in Ames was canceled when one of the tour buses transporting cast and crew was involved in a multicar accident. On Monday afternoon, both sides of Interstate 35 south of Ames were closed for hours after a chain reaction in the snowy southbound lanes grew and grew to claim more vehicles and victims, and the northbound lanes became access for rescue crews and tow trucks. Story County Sheriff?s Capt. Barry Thomas said three to five people were seriously injured and taken to the hospital, with many more minor injuries being reported in the crash, which occurred about 12:30 p.m.

Iowa State Patrol spokesman Sgt. Nate Ludwig said the person who died in the pileup was a passenger on a bus, but he didn?t know any other specifics.

About 8:30 a.m., according to the State Patrol, Avery Arneson, 17, of Decorah, was northbound on County Road W40 when the Oldsmobile Alero she was driving crossed the centerline and began sliding sideways. Gage Dahlberg, 15, of Decorah, was heading south on the highway when the Ford F150 he was driving collided with Arneson.

Arenson and her younger sister, Aden Arenson, 13, were killed in the crash, the patrol said. Dalhberg and three others were taken to hospitals with injuries.

Hours later, Cedar Rapids police responded to a one-car crash on Interstate 380 near the Highway 30 exit that killed two people.

Shortly before 11:30 a.m., police said, a 2007 Mercury Montego struck a pillar supporting an overpass. There were three adult males in the vehicle. Two were pronounced dead at the scene and the third was transported to UnityPoint-St. Luke?s Hospital with serious injuries.

Their names had not yet been released. Public safety spokesman Greg Buelow said that weather might have been a factor.

The department said officers responded to 44 crashes between 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday, half of them on I-380.

The patrol?s Ludwig said state police also responded to a fatal crash near Grinnell that was believed to have been weather-related.

That crash occurred at Exit 191 on Highway 63 east of Grinnell. The identity of Vitim had not yet been released.


The Ames Tribune and the Cedar Rapids Gazette contributed to this story