Major winter storm plows through IC, cancels classes


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Veronica Jordan is working on four things: staying warm, staying home, stocking up on food, and trying to avoid driving.

The first-year University of Iowa graduate student isn’t used to the roughly 5 inches of snow dumped on Iowa City by 6 p.m. Tuesday. After 10 years in Florida, this is her first blizzard.

“This is really crazy for me. I’m totally not used to it,” she said, huddled in a black coat and lilac scarf as she waited for a ride at the Main Library.

Forecasters at the National Weather Service expect the snow to continue into this morning, accumulating 12 to 18 inches. Wind gusts could reach 35 mph with a wind chill of 20 degrees below zero.

By 10 p.m. Tuesday, around 10 inches had fallen on Johnson County.

UI officials canceled classes through 10 a.m. today; as of 7 p.m. Tuesday, they wouldn’t speculate whether that could be extended.

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“Our general principle is to try to keep university classes going,” said UI spokesman Tom Moore.

“But when it becomes apparent that there are going to be travel issues for the majority of students, we generally will look at canceling classes.”

Officials have canceled classes because of heavy snow in two of the last three years.

All of Johnson County is under a blizzard warning until at least noon today, according to the National Weather Service. Iowa City officials issued a snow emergency from 8 a.m. today through 8 a.m. Friday.

“It’s going to be difficult to keep streets open,” said Carol Sweeting, Iowa City’s public works public-information coordinator, and residents are encouraged to keep cars in driveways and parking ramps.

Sweeting said arterial roads — those necessary for emergency personnel — will be the first priority for snowplows, followed by residential streets.

The last snow emergency in Iowa City occured in February 2010, she said, and city officials issued 777 citations during two snow emergencies last winter.

Iowa City School District officials let students leave at 1 p.m. Tuesday, though notification of some parents was delayed.

Murley said 58,000 calls were scheduled to go out to parents and guardians at 10:48 a.m. Tuesday, but as of about 2 p.m., 2,000 calls had not been received.

School officials take into account the time the last student will arrive at home on buses to decide whether school lets out early, Murley said. Wind and drifting snow are also factors in the decision, he said.

Iowa City schools are also canceled today.

Though Fred Grems, general manager of Durham Student Services, the busing contractor for the School District, said the company expected students to be dismissed an hour later than they were, the bus system was not affected.

Iowa State University canceled evening classes Tuesday. Like the UI, Indiana University canceled Tuesday night’s classes and this morning’s classes. The University of Wisconsin-Madison canceled its classes today.

“Anytime that the weather is like this, whenever we have storms, it puts a strain on our department,” said Courtney Greene, a spokeswoman for the Iowa State Patrol.

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