SIOUX CITY | Perched atop the slope at Grandview Park Saturday afternoon, Ethan Lohausen leaned back in his sled as his father, Mike Lohausen, pushed him to kickstart his slide down the hill.
Ethan, along with dozens of other children, enjoyed the leftovers of Friday’s snowfall with sledding, snowball flinging and more than a few snow angels left behind on the ground as the sunlight began to wane.
Fun and games were distant thoughts for the Sioux City Community School District officials on Saturday after Friday's snow storm caused problems for students trying to get home from school.
Traffic accidents and the heavy, wet snow created problems not only on city streets, but also on the highway and interstate.
By the end of the storm on Friday, Sioux City had received between 5 and 6 inches of snow. And it came fast early in the afternoon.
Unlike other districts in the area, Sioux City did not dismiss classes early Friday ahead of the storm.
District Superintendent Paul Gausman on Saturday said that in hindsight he would have changed his decision on early dismissal.
“We made the decision at around 11 a.m.,” Gausman said. “We suspected, based on the information we had at the time, to have snow on the ground already at that time, but we didn’t.”
Gausman said had he known so much snow would have fallen as quickly as it did, things would have played out differently.
“I believe the real heroes (Friday) were the bus drivers, the teachers and school administrators. They rose to the challenge of keeping our kids safe,” Gausman said.
Mike Collett, transit manager for the city of Sioux City, said the weather was a factor in two small accidents involving city buses carrying students that occurred near North High School on Friday. "The damage was minor, no one was injured,” Collett said.
Also on Friday, the Sioux Gateway Airport experienced some flight delays, Collett said.
Police in Sioux City were kept busy Friday with a rash of traffic accidents brought on by poor driving conditions, Police Sgt. Jeremy McClure said. In fact, they were still catching up with all the paperwork on Saturday evening, he said.
“We got lucky that no injuries were reported despite how many accidents there were,” McClure said. “In the scheme of things, we got off pretty light.”
City crews manning snow plows and trucks putting down deicing fluids did the heavy lifting to keep the roads as clear as possible during and after the storm.
On Saturday, the plows continued to work all day and throughout the night to clear side streets and do away with slick spots on major streets, according to Bob Padmore, city manager.
“(Friday) was just awful. The traffic was so bad because of how quickly the snow turned to ice,” Padmore said. “The plows really started to hit it hard, and now we’ve got most of the streets taken care of,” he said on Saturday.
While city crews cleared the roads, it fell upon residents to clear their own driveways and sidewalks, which made for a busy last couple of days at Bomgaars.
Joe Boyle, manager of the Bomgaars store on Hamilton Boulevard, said more than 1,000 customers came into the store on Thursday to get snow gear, shovels, snowblowers and other winter weaponry to battle the storm, with just as many customers on Friday.
“Lots of people trying to clean up their driveways. We’ve definitely been flat out busy,” Boyle said.
Keep the shovels handy, too.
The National Weather Service in Sioux Falls predicts another snow storm is in the cards for Thursday.
Jennifer Hacker, a meteorologist with the NWS, said the storm on Friday was rare, but not extremely so.
“I wouldn’t say it’s normal for the area to get upwards a foot of snow,” Hacker said, referring to areas like Sioux Center, Iowa, and Hawarden, Iowa, who received more than 11 inches.
Spencer, Iowa, received 7.5 inches, Orange City, Iowa and Vermillion, S.D. both received 9 inches.
“Be ready on Thanksgiving,” Hacker said. “Some kind of precipitation could definitely impact travel that day.”