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Weather Talk: Iowa pileup reveals driving in snow is dangerous

An estimated 50 to 70 cars, buses and trucks were involved in a deadly pileup during a snowstorm Monday, Feb. 5, on Interstate 35 just outside of Ames, Iowa.

Heavy snow was falling in a light wind with a temperature of around 10 degrees. Frightening video captured by Iowa Department of Transportation highway camera reveals the initial crash was caused by cars traveling too fast for the icy conditions and poor visibility.

The freeway was busy, and a steady stream of vehicles plowed into the initial crash, unable to slow down in time. A great many more vehicles were able to slow down, but were rear-ended by other, faster vehicles and became involved.

The storm was well forecast by the National Weather Service and media. However, the incident should remind people that roadways are not as safe during snowstorms. Even if you are driving safely, others on the road might not be and could involve you in a crash.

John Wheeler

John was born in Baton Rouge, LA, and grew up near Birmingham, Alabama. As a teenager, his family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and later to a small town in northeast Iowa. John traces his early interest in weather to the difference in climate between Alabama and Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in meteorology. Like any meteorologist, John is intrigued by extremes of weather, especially arctic air outbreaks and winter storms.  John has been known to say he prefers his summers to be hot but in winter, he prefers the cold.  When away from work, John enjoys long-distance running and reading.  John has been a meteorologist at WDAY since May of 1985.

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