Say it ain’t snow

First snowfall of the season predicted Friday/Saturday

While highs have been in the low 60s the first half of the week, temperatures are expected to drop significantly, beginning Friday when the high will reach a mere 40 degrees, with lows dropping below freezing. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), Marshalltonians may encounter damp conditions with afternoon rain showers turning into snow later in the day, continuing off and on into Saturday. The city of Marshalltown has already begun taking measures to ensure roads and bridges remain safe through inclement weather.

“The snow projected for this weekend should be enough to make the streets and roads a little white like powdered sugar, but will melt the next day,” said Public Works Director Justin Nickel. “If we get less than two inches we probably won’t do anything.”

The city declares a winter storm emergency when the area is projected to receive two or more inches of snow. At that point, on-street parking will be banned on designated snow routes, with those vehicles needing to be removed to allow for snowplows to get through. Those who do not comply may face a $25 fine with the vehicle subject to being towed.

The NWS projects Marshalltown will receive less than a tenth of an inch of precipitation on Friday, with about the same amount expected in the evening. Wind gusts may reach 31 mph. Friday night is expected to be blustery with a chance of precipitation at 40 percent, with the chance increased to 50 percent on Saturday. A low of 28 degrees Saturday night will make Central Iowa feel more like winter than fall.

“Bridges getting slick is always our first concern,” said Street Superintendent Jeff Roads. “We do have our trucks ready to go with plenty of salt, but the ground temperature should still be high enough to allow the snow to melt.”

Nickel said city trucks have been properly serviced and prepped in the last 30 days to ensure readiness in time before any major snowfall hits Marshalltown.

“We’re prepared, but it’s early in the season for a snowstorm. Maybe about 3-4 weeks from now, if we get a storm warning, the street department would start to put snowblades on the trucks,” he noted.

Every snowfall is different, and therefore, the city takes a variety of factors into consideration.

“There is no certain amount [of snow] we worry about the most — it depends on consistency,” Roads said. “Deep into the winter season we worry about wet snow, which can re-freeze overnight. Dry snow really doesn’t affect us until we get enough that it gets packed down.”

To learn more about the city’s snow routes, visit www.ci.marshalltown.ia.us. Information is also available in the lobby of the Marshalltown Police Department.

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Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or sjordan@timesrepublican.com