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MASON CITY - Snow and blizzard like conditions closed North Iowa schools and made travel difficult Thursday.

A blizzard warning was issued and ran through Thursday.

The National Weather Service, characterized travel as "extremely dangerous. Do not travel."

Law enforcement and emergency responders took to social media, warning travelers to stay off the roads and be safe.

“If you don't have to go anywhere today, it may be a good day to get caught up on some things at home,” Mason City Police posted on Facebook.

Mason City, Clear Lake and Newman Catholic were part of no fewer than a dozen area districts to call off classes.

Others included: Northwood-Kensett, Central Springs, Rockford, West Hancock, Forest City, Osage, Riceville, Nashua-Plainfield, and Algona.

The decision ended the chance for many districts to complete a full week of classes for the first time in almost a month.

North Iowa Area Community College closed at noon.

Still most area school districts aren't concerned that this recent stretch of bad weather will cause problems for their respective student bodies.

Northwood-Kensett Superintendent Michael Crozier said that the district has an extra 60 hours in the schedule over the 1080 hours that the state requires, which computes to a little more than nine days.

"We may make up time even if we are above 1080," Crozier said. "I am not worried. If we have to go into June, we will do that."

That sentiment is echoed by Steve Ward, superintendent at Central Springs. 

According to Ward, the school board could "reduce the days by some of the extra hours we go over the state minimum." Currently, Central Spring has missed seven total days.

Right now, students at West Hancock have two days to make up. 

Superintendent Wayne Kronemann has said that "We scheduled 78 hours or 13 days extra this year, we do not make up the first five days that we miss."

Doug Gee, Clear Lake's superintendent, similarly noted the school has extra hours built into the 1080 required and it's "getting close to the number of hours with these last few days."

"This will be something the school board will talk about and decide how many or them the students will make-up," Gee said.

Today, Forest City opted for an "E-learning day" which will reduce one day at the end of the school year to make-up.

If response to the switch stays positive, Superintendent Darwin Lehmann indicated Forest City will continue with E-days.

"After we receive feedback from students, parents, and staff we will evaluate if we use E-learning days in the future."

Such planning is challenged by harsh extremes and erratic shifts.

North Iowa received between 1 to 3 inches of snow combined with single digit temperatures, dropping to minus-9 below zero overnight.Winds ranged from 23 to 31 mph with gusts has high as 44 mph, causing blizzard like conditions with blowing snow.

Wind chills were as low as minus-35, though still not as brisk as polar vortex temperatures a week ago.

Temperatures reached a raw minus-29 during the polar vortex. That doesn’t count the nearly minus-50 to minus-60 degree wind chill through the week.

On Jan. 30, Mason City broke the same record twice in one day. Record breaking temperatures for the day reached minus-27 Wednesday morning and then broke the record again around midnight at minus-29.

Wednesday also broke a record as the coldest high temperature on record in Mason City at minus-17 degrees for that date. It was also the second all-time coldest high temperature ever recorded in Mason City.  

By Saturday, temperatures rose to the high 30s and reached 45 degrees Sunday.

According to the National Weather Service, Friday is expected to be sunny and cold with a high near 2 degrees and dangerously cold wind chills of minus-35. Temperatures will drop to minus-15 overnight into Saturday morning.

There is a chance of more snow Saturday night and throughout the day Sunday. Another chance of snow is possible Monday night and throughout the day Tuesday.

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Contact Courtney at 641-421-0534 or on Twitter @CourtneyFiorini.

 

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