One cold mess
May 2, 2013
Ross Reicks, a senior at Carroll High School, shovels snow from a driveway on 15th Street Thursday morning. Reicks said they used the snowblower for part of the drive but wet, heavy snow made it impossible to use it to finish the job. Reicks and other students from the area had no classes as the storm forced schools to close.
Worst May snowstorms
May 23, 1882 - The southeastern quarter of Iowa had significant snowfall, which ranged from a half inch in Des Moines to up to 6 inches in Washington.
May 3, 1907 - A volcano eruption in eastern Russia caused a very cold spring in Iowa. Snow covered the entire state with reports of about an inch in Des Moines and 1.5 inches in Atlantic and Corning.
May 9, 1945 - Snow fell in the northwestern portion of the state, with a reported 8 inches in Denison.
May 28, 1947 - The granddaddy-of-all May snowstorms in Iowa covered most of the state and dumped 10 inches on Le Mars. It was the latest spring snowfall on record and gave way to a crippling hot-and-dry summer.
May 3, 1967 - Snowfall across the southern half of Iowa peaked at 8 inches in Glenwood.
- The National Weather Service
The overnight storm that piled 6.5 inches of sloppy, hard-to-shovel, aggravating snow on Carroll could rival the "granddaddy-of-them-all" May snowstorms in Iowa, the state's climatologist said today.
"It's pretty unusual to have so much snow," climatologist Harry Hillaker said. "It's not uncommon to have snow in May in Iowa, but probably 90 percent of the time when we do get snow, you might not even realize it happened."
Trace amounts of snowflakes fall in May in Iowa on average about every other year, but it's been 46 years since more than an inch was reported.
The most significant May snowstorm on record was on May 28, 1947, when Le Mars had 10 inches, but Carroll had 2.
This week's storm is equally sporadic. Forest City reported 11.5 inches, whereas Atlantic had a little more than 2 inches and Auburn had 3.5.
Carroll and Jefferson schools canceled classes today, whereas Denison had a late start.
"It really depended on what band of snow you were in," said Brenda Brock, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Johnston.
More snow is expected tonight in Carroll, but it should be less than a half inch, Brock said.
The storm apparently took many Carroll residents by surprise, Police Chief Jeff Cayler speculated, because there are many vehicles parked on city streets that are now buried by walls of snow from the city's plows.
"It's so significant that the way some of the cars are buried they might be there for a week" before it melts, he said. "We'll give them a day or two to dig out."
Randy Krauel, the city's director of public works, said his crew worked for two hours to put plows on their trucks this morning before street snow removal started about 4 a.m. He plans to start hauling the large piles of snow from downtown parking lots and street centerlines and other areas this afternoon.
"We have buried a few cars with this amount of snow," he said.
But now, the good news: temperatures are expected to be above-freezing starting Friday, with a high of 65 expected by Monday. That, combined with rain on Friday and Saturday, should push a quick melt.
Hillaker's advice: "Let the temperature and the weather take care of it. It certainly isn't going to last long."
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