Heavy snow fell across parts of Iowa on October 19th.
© WSFA 12 News/Ryan York
Heavy snow fell across parts of Iowa on October 19th.
What was supposed to be a dusting of snow Monday morning turned into a full-blown central Iowa snowstorm.

Forecasts called for flurries and about an inch of snow in the metro, one day after the season's first measurable snowfall. Instead, an intense snow squall dropped up to nine inches in northern Polk County.

"Things just came together in the right fashion to produce the heavy snow that we're seeing across central Iowa right now," National Weather Service Meteorologist Jeff Zogg said early Monday afternoon.

Flurries started in the metro at about 8:30 a.m. and picked up through the morning. It was around 11:45 a.m. when many central Iowans received a "Snow Squall Warning" alert on their cell phones. The message from the NWS warned of whiteout conditions and icy roads and ended emphatically, urging drivers to "Slow down!"

According to the weather service, "a snow squall is an intense short-lived burst of heavy snowfall that leads to a quick reduction in visibilities and is often accompanied by gusty winds."

The weather service started issuing snow squall warnings nationwide in November 2018. The first warnings of its kind were issued in December 2019 for an area in eastern Iowa, including Iowa City.

Up until Monday, those were the only snow squall warnings ever issued in Iowa.

The warning ended at 12:45 p.m., by which point Polk City was reporting 9 inches of snow, according to the NWS. Ankeny got 8 inches and Grimes got 6, while the Des Moines International Airport reported 1.2 inches on the city's south side.

Snow squall caused dangerous road conditions, car crashes

Ankeny Police Sgt. Corey Schneden said officers responded to 14 crashes, none of which were serious, and three cars in a ditch between 11 a.m. and 1:45 p.m.

Schneden said he thought drivers were caught off guard by the storm, which limited visibility to less than one-quarter of a mile in the area. He said the roads returned to good condition shortly after the system moved out of the area.

The Iowa State Patrol responded to 31 weather-related crashes and 24 calls to assist motorists in the metro area, according to Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Alex Dinkla, who said troopers switched to their winter uniforms Thursday but are always prepared for bad weather.

"This early on, to have a snow event, it's kind of odd and unusual," Dinkla said. "But having said that, you get around Halloween, sometimes you have great conditions for trick-or-treating and you can get wintry conditions."

Between midnight and 12:30 p.m., the Des Moines Police Department responded to three crashes with injuries and six crashes with property damage only, said spokesman Sgt. Paul Parizek.

"We are prepared for blizzards even if they happen in July," he said.