First snow storm of the season hits Ottumwa

It is officially winter in southeast Iowa. The high winds were not only blowing the snow around Ottumwa, they were forcing the waters of the Des Moines River, which are usually calm, over the dam.

It definitely could be a white Christmas in Ottumwa and throughout southeast Iowa. However, the winter weather definitely has first responders on high alert.

"Driving conditions in town are much different then they are out in the county right now. I mean that, the wind is blowing so hard there is almost zero visibility and completely total white-out conditions in some places in the northern part of the county, which happens to be pretty flat," said Wapello County Sheriff Mark Miller.

The Wapello County Sheriff's Office, along with the Ottumwa Police Department, are cautioning drivers, telling them to slow down and take their time.

"You obviously aren't going to be able to drive as fast. You may have to go below the speed limit and drive slower. Just allow yourself more time to get to where you need to go," said Officer Brandon Gravett with the Ottumwa Police Department.

One thing to keep in mind during the winter months as you are driving, if you see a fire truck or ambulance, take it slow when getting off the road.

"When you see an emergency vehicle, don't be in a hurry, don't snap the car sideways. Just slow down and pull to the right and let your emergency vehicles pass," said Assistant Chief Mike Craff with the Ottumwa Fire Department.

The City of Ottumwa is still reminding residents that the city is currently under a snow emergency, which means that snow routes need to be clear.

"Give those plows a little space to work, they are big heavy machines. They don't stop on a dime. So, don't crowd them in," said Tom Rodgers, Ottumwa's Public Information Officer.