Warming trend

After a weekend of temperatures in the single and low double digits – negative single and double digits, that is – a high of 21 degrees on Tuesday seemed like a heat wave.

According to the National Weather Service forecast, it’s just the beginning of a warming trend. Temperatures are expected to rise to more than 40 degrees next Monday.

For some, the warming trend is a mixed blessing.

For the city of Fort Dodge, it means sending out crews to repair the dozens of potholes that sprout with the warm weather.

Greg Koch, public works director, said they are caused by water getting under the road surface, freezing and then thawing in a cycle that breaks up the pavement.

They can happen anywhere.

“Wherever there’s a way for water to get under,” he said.

Koch said his crews were last able to deal with them a few weeks ago when there were several days with temperatures in the high 30s.

“We saw a lot of them,” he said. “I expect the same by Thursday.”

He expects crews to be busy

“We’ll be out aggressively filling them as they form,” he said.

Koch said pothole complaints are currently taking a backseat to snow and ice complaints. He expects that to change.

“It’s driven by the season,” he said.

The city gets about six complaints about the holes per week, he said. He said that most are filled within 24 hours.

Residents can also report pot holes by using the city’s website at www.fortdodgeiowa.org and clicking on “Report a Pothole.”

The warmer temperatures are also responsible for creating lots and lots of the substance known as slush. Half-melted snow and ice combined with salt, sand and dirt.

It makes a mess wherever it’s tracked, whether the floor of cars or the aisles of local stores.

Hy-Vee store Director Tim Flaherty is looking forward to the day when it’s all melted.

“Once the snow is gone it’s much easier to keep a store clean,” he said.

The warmer weather offers another benefit, he said that it makes it possible for more people to get out which helps business.

Dan Witte, steel foreman for the crew putting up steel beams at the new Kemna Auto dealership, dealing with the cold is part of the territory.

How cold it’s been for his crew is evidenced by the collection of large propane tanks used to provide heat in their warming shed.

“It makes things a little tougher,” he said. “They let us warm up.”

For a crew used to working in sub-zero weather, a slight warmup has an interesting effect.

“It makes 10 degrees feel pretty good,” he said.

There is one downside, as the snow melts, it reveals the large areas of bare dirt often found on construction sites.

“Mud is always a problem,” he said.

He takes it in stride.

“You have to take the good with the bad,” he said.

That includes the layer of road grime built up from driving through the slush, ice and salt. Car washes in Fort Dodge were being well-used Tuesday by motorists trying to remove it.

Dennis Charlson, of Humboldt, was one of those although for him, it was more practical.

“I had some snow inside the wheel,” he said. “It was wobbling on the highway.”

A little time with a high pressure washer took care of it for him and left his car sparkling.

Geoff Astor, 12, of Fort Dodge, hasn’t let the cold keep him off his bike.

“I’ve been riding all winter,” he said.

While the slushy goop in the road might splatter a bit, he said the only real problem for him is keeping his bike in top condition.

“I’ve got rust on my chain,” he said.

Another bit of the good with the bad that’s just around the corner is getting the winter out of the house in the annual spring cleaning – that would include among other things, stains from the slush and mush.

Tim Turner, co-owner of Cyndy’s Custom Carpets and Chemdry in Fort Dodge said that he expects his workload to increase in the near future.

“Springtime is always a good time,” he said.