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Forecasters Will Issue Snow Squall Warnings This Winter

NWS Des Moines
A snow squall on February 5, 2018 led to a multi-car crash on Interstate 35 near Ames.

There’s a new type of National Weather Service winter weather alert.  Meteorologist Kurt Kotenberg of the Des Moines bureau said they’re adding snow squall warnings to the list.

“The purpose of a snow squall warning is to capture those snow events where the conditions go from clear, nothing happening to all of a sudden just whiteout conditions," he said. “You know, 30-to-40 mile an hour winds and intense snow where it goes from zero to really bad in an instant." 

A snow squall near Ames on Interstate 35 last year was responsible for a multi-vehicle accident.  Kotenberg said traffic was stalled for hours and many motorists were forced to stay in their cars until tow trucks could clear the wreckage.

Kotenberg said the lead time for a snow squall warning will be generally 20 to 30 minutes. He added warnings will only be issued if weather officials are certain it will occur.