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Weather service: Major winter storm possible Wednesday night, Thursday

Dec 18, 2012

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch early this morning for a major winter storm possible Wednesday night and Thursday.

According to the weather service in the Quad Cities, an intense winter storm will move across the Midwest Wednesday night through Thursday night bringing the potential for heavy snow with accumulations of 6 inches or more and very strong winds of 25 to 35 mph and gusts over 50 mph.

Storm severity will vary depending on location. For counties in southeast Iowa, a mix of rain and snow will likely develop Wednesday evening and change to all snow by Thursday morning. Winds will increase Thursday morning, as will the blizzard threat. The combination of very strong winds and heavy snow could produce dangerous conditions, such as limited visibilities and blowing and drifting snow.

The weather service states those planning to travel Wednesday night and Thursday should prepare for dangerous and possibly life-threatening conditions if stranded for prolonged periods.

Travelers can take along a winter survival kit, including a cell phone, flashlight, jumper cables, sand or kitty litter, a shovel, snowbrush and ice scraper, flares, blankets, bottled water, medications and energy bars. For details on creating a kit, visit Federal Emergency Management Agency’s website www.ready.gov/winter-weather, and click on “Winterize Your Vehicle.”

The Iowa Department of Transportation has several recommendations for safe travel during the impending storm:

• Trip preparation — is the trip necessary? Often, delaying a trip by a few hours can give snow removal crews time to get the roads back to normal winter driving conditions. For traveler information, visit http://511ia.org or call 511 in Iowa or 800-288-1047 outside Iowa. Information also is available at http://weatherview.iowadot.gov. Before leaving, let someone know your departure and expected arrival times, along with your intended route. Allow extra time to reach your destination.

• Prepare your vehicle and passengers. Make sure your vehicle is in good mechanical condition and its gas tank is nearly full. Turn on your vehicle’s headlights so you can see and be seen. Ensure all passengers are wearing their seat belts or are in child safety seats.

• Use winter driving skills. Do not use cruise control. Allow extra stopping distance by maintaining adequate distance between your vehicle and the one ahead. Avoid abrupt steering maneuvers. Lower your vehicle’s speed, accelerate more slowly and apply the brakes in a controlled manner.

• Use caution when approaching, following or passing a snowplow. Snowplows generally operate at much slower speeds than other traffic. Snowplows can be forced sideways when clearing hard-packed drifts and generate a “snow cloud” that may impair the vision of drivers in nearby vehicles. Remain a safe distance behind the snowplow, pass only when clear and never continue to drive alongside a plow. Allow plenty of space when passing a snowplow because the wing of the plow blade extends out to the side of the truck. Do not cut back into the lane of traffic too soon in front of a snowplow truck because the blade also extends in front of the truck.

The snow should end late Thursday, and winds should subside by Friday morning.

The weather service advises monitoring forecasts for updates on the winter storm.


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