Cold weather

Clinton resident Donna Combs bundled up on Monday to get some grocery shopping done at Jewel Osco in Clinton despite frigid January temperatures.

Amy Kent/Clinton Herald
Herald Staff Writer

With another load of snow added to a growing total and another round of bone-chilling, sub-zero temperatures, area residents are beginning to wonder: Is winter ever going to end?

Well, for Donna Combs, this type of weather just comes with the territory.

“It’s the Midwest, snuff it up and live with it,” Combs said.

Winter has certainly taken its toll on the area and January has been one month that many would like to forget, but it wasn’t too long ago that these unfavorable conditions were last seen.

According to Clinton-area weather observer Jim Blaess, the winter of 2009 was another of adverse proportions, but because the area was spoiled with two unseasonable winters in between then and now, it is hitting residents a little harder than normal.

“Everyone’s thinking it’s the coldest we’ve had in 40 years but it’s not,” Blaess said. “The thing that stands out is the last two winters (combined) we only had four days below zero degrees. We’ll probably end up with 13 this year. That’s why people are having a hard time.”

Another major factor that makes this winter so unbearable is the fact that between October 2012 and January 2013 the area only recorded 7.6 inches of snowfall. This winter has seen more than 28 inches of snowfall, which is nearly 21 inches more than last winter, making it easy to forget what winter in Iowa is really like.

For Clinton resident Trevor LaPage, the snow isn’t what keeps his anticipation for spring going. It’s the below-freezing temperatures that continue to hammer the area this year.

“I can’t wait till it’s over,” LaPage said. “But I’d rather have feet of snow than this (cold).”

LaPage isn’t the only one ready to retire the parka, mittens and stocking caps, though. Area school officials are also anticipating spring so that students can resume an uninterrupted classroom schedule.

For the first time since 2009, several local schools have shut down due to the cold, totaling four school closings for both the Clinton and Camanche school districts in January alone.

The weather also is affecting local law enforcement officials as well, but it’s not so much the cold that is slowing them down.

Along with the chilling temperatures that began to cover the area Sunday night, considerable wind gusts, some measuring up to nearly 50 miles per hour, made driving nearly impossible.

“I can’t give an exact number of vehicles in ditches but throughout the night there was more than 25 cars at one time,” Clinton County Chief Deputy Kevin Cain said. “It wasn’t an issue of snow accumulation on the ground but there was just zero visibility.”

Conditions became so dangerous that several local law enforcement agencies, including the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office, would no longer send assistance to people stranded in their vehicles.

“There was no means that we could even attempt to reach some of the people,” Cain said. “When people called in to 911, it was a status check like how much gasoline they had, what kind of clothing they were wearing and what resources they had. At that point it’s better to shelter in place than try to risk resources out there, just compounding the issue.”

As bad as things were Sunday and Monday, it doesn’t seem the area will get much relief from Old Man Winter as snow is projected for Thursday and another round of arctic cold could be right around the corner.

But life must go on so strap up those boots, throw on a pair of long underwear and like Combs, hope that better days are just over the horizon.

“Spring will be here soon,” she said.

 

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