Transportation officials in Iowa and Illinois pleaded with motorists to heed warnings to stay off the roads during the winter storm.
At 1 p.m. Thursday, December 20, Interstate 80 was blocked in six separate locations because of wrecks. I-80 was blocked both directions near Walcott because of numerous wrecks there; both directions of I-80 were also blocked at North West Boulevard in Davenport because of a crash. Westbound lanes were blocked at Brady Street, near the Williamsburg Exit and west of Tiffin because of wrecks. Both directions were blocked by a jackknifed semi near Grinnell.
A jackknifed semi reportedly blocked lanes of I-74 north of Galesburg, Illinois at about 3 p.m.
By 4 p.m., Iowa officials announced they were closing Interstate 35 between Ames and Mason City/Clear Lake because of crashes and impassible road conditions. The road was to reopen when conditions improve, but that wasn’t expected to happen before Friday morning.
Twenty-five vehicles were involved in an apparent chain-reaction crash that killed three people on Interstate 35 Thursday morning at the 150 mile marker northwest of Webster City.
High winds and blowing snow created hazardous travel conditions. Winds have an especially strong impact on lightweight and high-profile vehicles as well as those towing trailers.
Iowa State Police pleaded with motorists to stay off roads in the state until the storm had passed and the roads could be cleared. State agencies and the National Guard combined forces to work to rescue hundreds of stranded motorists in frigid temperatures and high winds.
Winds were expected to remain strong, with gusts between 35 and 60 miles per hour across Iowa through Thursday night.
“Iowans and others traveling through the state also have a key role to play in reducing injuries and fatalities by heeding the state’s travel advisories and postponing nonessential travel until travel conditions improve,” said a spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Transportation.