National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce


After an unseasonably warm December to end 2023, the beginning of 2024 reminded Iowans what winter can really feel like as an upper level low pressure system brought heavy snow, blizzard conditions, and frigid cold to the state. This onslaught of wintry weather came in waves, starting with heavy snowfall on the night of January 11th and lasting through January 12th. Accumulations were highest over southern and southeastern Iowa where amounts ranged from 10 to 14 inches, then steadily tapered off further north and west where 6 to 8 inches was more common. 

The heavier snowfall rates moved out of the area by midday Friday, January 12th,
but the impacts had only just begun with light snow and gusty winds continuing periodically through Friday and into Saturday, January 13th. The residual snowpack from the winter storm earlier in the week and powdery snow falling from this system resulted in blizzard conditions as gusty winds picked up Friday. Widespread wind gusts of 35 to 45 mph were observed throughout Iowa, with some locations gusting over 50 mph at times. Whiteout conditions developed on roadways, as blowing and drifting snow made travel nearly impossible for much of Friday and Saturday. These poor travel conditions resulted in multiple road closures, including stretches of I-80, with many more roads deemed impassable by the Iowa Department of Transportation. Travel conditions didn't fully improve until the morning of Sunday, January 14th when wind gusts finally diminished. 

In addition to the heavy snow and blizzard conditions, this system brought down an Arctic air mass which plummeted temperatures well below zero. Wind chills during the blizzard dropped to the -10s to -20s on Friday, then -30s to -40s by Saturday evening, creating life-threatening danger with this winter storm. 

Photo taken on CR R38 near Slater. Photo courtesy of Rod Donavon.
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Total snowfall amounts from January 11th through January 13th. Image courtesy of the Iowa Environmental Mesonet. Semis stuck on I-80 eastbound near Victor. Photo courtesy of the Iowa DOT. Iowa road conditions throughout the course of the event. Images courtesy of the Iowa Environmental Mesonet.
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