1961: The third significant winter storm to affect Iowa during the month of December was also the most severe, as the state was struck on the 22nd-23rd with heavy snow and strong northerly winds gusting to more than 40 mph bringing transportation to a standstill and stranding thousands of travelers. Roadways were littered with abandoned vehicles and those stranded took shelter wherever they could. One farm house near Bondurant sheltered 90 people and another near Griswold housed 57. Near Atlantic the blinding blowing snow caused a ten car pile-up that injured 5 people. The Des Moines police department estimated that there were 10,000 abandoned vehicles in the city on the evening of the 22nd. Ankeny reported a 24 hour snowfall accumulation of 12.0 inches while the Des Moines airport reported 11.1 inches, the highest 24 hour total at that location in more than a decade. Other reported snowfall amounts from the 22nd-23rd included 13.8 inches at Guthrie Center, 13.0 inches at Osceola, 11.0 inches at Shenandoah, and 10.0 inches at Greenfield, Lamoni, and Oskaloosa. At least 15 fatalities and dozens of injuries were attributed to the storm across Iowa. The month finished as the snowiest December on record at many locations, although not in statewide average.
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This post was written by Schnack on December 23, 2012