February 21, 2024

Most of Iowa was under a blizzard warning Friday, as the state contended with driving winds, accumulating snow, frigid temperatures – and assessments of how it will impact Monday’s Iowa Caucuses.

Campaigns were already scrubbing events amid cancelled school classes, nixed commercial flights, temperatures in the low single digits and predicted weekend wind gusts of 30-40 miles per hour.

A Wind Chill Watch is in effect for the state from Saturday night through Tuesday afternoon, with predicted wind chills of 30 to 45 degrees below zero. The dangerous conditions could bring frostbite to exposed skin in just 10 minutes, KCCI reported. 

The state offered safety warnings of where motorists could pull over from snowy highways to ride out a blizzard. A tractor trailer remained on its side on the shoulder of Interstate I-80 outside of Des Moines in a warning of potential hazards. 

And temperatures were forecast to drop below zero on caucus night, when howling winds could make it the coldest caucus ever. 

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who pulled up to second place in a new Iowa poll Thursday, scrapped her planned in-person campaign event set for Friday evening in Council Bluffs, where the temperature was just 5 degrees Friday.

Her campaign cited ‘potentially dangerous weather conditions.’

Ron DeSantis braved cold temperatures and a dire forecast to meet with a conservative group in Ankeny, Iowa. Blizzard warnings cover the state and frigid temperatures are forecast for Monday

Rival Ron DeSantis, who is banking on a strong showing in Iowa, held one event Friday in Ankeny but nixed later ones. Donald Trump surrogate Kari Lake was still scheduled to hold an event for him Friday night. Trump left the state to attend his New York fraud trial Thursday, but is scheduled to rally his MAGA faithful at events Saturday and Sunday.

Ralph Reed of the Faith & Freedom Coalition is already looking at how the chilly weather will impact turnout in the state, but guessed hardy Iowans would show up even in uncomfortable conditions.

‘Prior to these weather reports indicating this sort of polar vortex weather pattern that we’re going to have, we had it projected in our model that somewhere between 200 to 220,000’ caucusgoers, he said.

A blizzard and frigid temperatures are causing the cancellation of political events in the final days before the Iowa Caucuses

A blizzard and frigid temperatures are causing the cancellation of political events in the final days before the Iowa Caucuses

Wind chills were predicted to hit -45 degrees, as Iowans prepare to head to caucus sites on Monday

Wind chills were predicted to hit -45 degrees, as Iowans prepare to head to caucus sites on Monday

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley scrubbed her Friday events, even as she has enjoyed a small surge in the polls

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley scrubbed her Friday events, even as she has enjoyed a small surge in the polls

Watch out! Ron DeSantis cancelled his later events Friday. He and wife Casey DeSantis are relying on a ground operation in Iowa

Watch out! Ron DeSantis cancelled his later events Friday. He and wife Casey DeSantis are relying on a ground operation in Iowa

Iowans are being warned they could face frostbite with as little of 10 minutes of skin exposure to the elements

Iowans are being warned they could face frostbite with as little of 10 minutes of skin exposure to the elements

DeSantis supporters brought signs to a CNN debate in Des Moines. But can he turn out his backers on caucus day?

DeSantis supporters brought signs to a CNN debate in Des Moines. But can he turn out his backers on caucus day?

A political yard sign for former President and current Republican candidate hopeful Donald Trump sits in the snowy shoulder along a road near Reasnor, Iowa. Trump's camp says his commited supporters will show up

A political yard sign for former President and current Republican candidate hopeful Donald Trump sits in the snowy shoulder along a road near Reasnor, Iowa. Trump’s camp says his commited supporters will show up

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy had scheduled multiple campaign events Friday. He campaigned in Cedar Rapids on Thursday

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy had scheduled multiple campaign events Friday. He campaigned in Cedar Rapids on Thursday

Iowa Department of Administrative Services plows snow on top of the Capitol parking ramp as blizzard conditions hit Des Moines, Friday, Jan. 12, 2024.

Iowa Department of Administrative Services plows snow on top of the Capitol parking ramp as blizzard conditions hit Des Moines, Friday, Jan. 12, 2024.

Thanks for the lift: DeSantis made it to his first event in Ankeny, but the super PAC Never Back Down cancelled later scheduled appearances

Thanks for the lift: DeSantis made it to his first event in Ankeny, but the super PAC Never Back Down cancelled later scheduled appearances

‘If you ended up with high winds and it’s snowing sideways, you know, maybe,’ there would be an impact, he told reporters on a call Thursday.

But the veteran of caucuses going back to 1984 said Iowans take their role in the caucuses ‘very seriously.’  

‘They play a cherished role in the selection of the president United States … They’ll meet these candidates multiple times … I mean, if you’ve lived in Iowa for more than six months, there’s nothing really particularly surprising about a cold snap.’ He referenced a prediction that Trump supporters, who skew older, wouldn’t turn out. ‘I’m just not buying it,’ he said.

Trump senior advisor Chris LaCivita said Trump’s supporters are ‘very committed’ and would turn out not matter what.

‘Nothing’s changed,’ he said Wednesday amid the dire forecast. ‘The weather changes a little bit but I’m not joking when I say just wear a coat. I mean, you know, you’re literally going to the caucus, you’re walking, you’re going. I mean, this is Iowa, they know how to handle the weather,’ he said.

‘We have a very committed group of voters who as the President said on numerous times, would walk over glass to vote for him. So we know the intensity favors us.’

Trailing in the polls, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy kept his political schedule Friday, wrapping his decision in the flag and taking a dig at his rivals as he has previously.

‘George Washington braved the weather to cross the Delaware,’ he posted on X Friday morning. ‘Another snow day in Iowa, another day of events for us. First event starts in 1 hour. We’ll continue to every last one for as long as we can *physically* make it.’

Shovel ready: Residents of Des Moines were already digging out, but being advised not to travel

Shovel ready: Residents of Des Moines were already digging out, but being advised not to travel

The state will be a the center of the action politically Monday as Donald Trump faces his rivals in the caucuses

The state will be a the center of the action politically Monday as Donald Trump faces his rivals in the caucuses

Des Moines and other Iowa cities got slammed with snow, which continued to accumulate Friday

Des Moines and other Iowa cities got slammed with snow, which continued to accumulate Friday

Iowans are experienced contending with snow, but wind chills will pose health hazards

Iowans are experienced contending with snow, but wind chills will pose health hazards

It takes a village: The East Village neighborhood of Des Moines was able to keep streets passable, but people were being advised to avoid travel altogether

It takes a village: The East Village neighborhood of Des Moines was able to keep streets passable, but people were being advised to avoid travel altogether

Then he cautioned: ‘We honor the Iowa caucus process. I encourage everyone in these communities to be safe & respect their decisions today, as we continue to do our best to show up.’ 

Authorities were urging Iowans not to travel, and with up to a foot of snow predicted, there were warnings that gusty winds would continue to cause hazards by blowing fallen snow on Saturday.

Iowans weren’t the only ones getting walloped by winter weather.

Every state in the country has been issued with a weather warning, as the Midwest prepares to be hit with up to a foot of snow.

Multiple weather hazards are impacting the country with the National Weather Service (NWS) having now issued a weather alert for every state.

Blizzard, tornado, flood, avalanche and wind alerts have all been triggered, with one wind alert stretching nearly 2,000 miles from Texas to New England.

Heavy snow is currently spreading across the Midwest, with the NWS reporting that one to two inches has been falling every hour.

Forecasters have already warned that areas of Montana, particularly Lewistown and Havre, will see temperatures plunge to -48F due to extreme wind chill.