Below is a radar loop of the blizzard conditions that affected central and southeast Iowa during the afternoon and evening hours of January 16. The system quickly developed between Des Moines and Fort Dodge between 2:00 and 3:00pm as two boundaries collided and formed a very compact area of low pressure. One of these boundaries is visible dropping southward through the band of precipitation over Des Moines while the low pressure center can be seen forming to the immediate south and west of Des Moines. This collision generated a small, but efficient, region of heavy snow that struck Des Moines right at the evening rush hour. This heavy snow combined with strong winds of 30-40 mph that had been occurring throughout the day and instantly brought whiteout conditions along its track. Snowfall totals were generally in the 1 to 3 inch range across central and southeast Iowa.
In some ways, this system closely resembled a summertime squall line, many of which develop a circulation at the top of the bow echo known as bookend vortex. There were even reports of lightning around Des Moines as this line passed through the city.