DES MOINES, Iowa - City and state organizations are preparing for an ice storm headed to Iowa Sunday.
While it may seem like preparing for an ice storm is similar to other winter weather conditions, Des Moines Public Works' director Jonathan Gano says his team prepares slightly differently.
"We prepare for this one a little differently than we do a normal winter storm; we'll be doing extra anti-icing applications," he said. "On a normal storm, we'll put out many miles of salt brine out on the snow route system, and in select locations in the neighborhood streets. This weekend, we'll be putting salt brine down on the entire 2,200 miles of the city street system. So, every block should get a preventive layer of salt for the first round of snow to land on, that then gets coated with ice, to break the bond and help keep traction on the roadway for the entirety of the storm."
Even with all that salt on the roads, officials are advising you stay indoors during the storm unless absolutely necessary. Des Moines Public Works says it has a surplus of its salt-brine solution from low levels of winter weather activity last year - but that can't prevent ice from setting in on trees and power lines. In fact, MidAmerican Energy warns that is the greatest danger during an ice storm; an icy branch can weigh 30 times its normal weight, and an icy power line packs an extra 500 pounds. It's a lethal combination, if you're outdoors.
"First and foremost, stay home," said Franny Medeiros with Polk County Emergency Management. "Secondly if that's not an option, we always suggest a hotel or motel. If that's not an option either, then we would suggest a warming center, if there's - a lot of locations have generators, if you're able to go to a location like that, that'll be great. And thirdly then, if we would need to, we'd actually open up a shelter that people could stay."
Polk County Emergency Management will be on stand-by this weekend to offer additional personnel to MidAmerican Energy or Des Moines Public Works, should the need arise. Forecasts show the storm subsiding by Monday morning.