AMES, Iowa – Feb. 19, 2014 – Two storm systems are headed for Iowa after midnight tonight, with a blizzard warning issued for portions of central and northern Iowa.
The systems will bring combinations of rain, freezing rain/sleet, and snow for much of Iowa beginning early Thursday morning and through Thursday evening. Snow fall rates as high as 2 inches per hour are possible in some locations.
In addition to the ice and snow, winds will increase Thursday evening with gusts up to 50 mph across the state. High winds may cause white out conditions and make driving conditions dangerous for high-profile vehicles or vehicles towing trailers.
Remember, strong winds or heavy snow are capable of snapping power lines, toppling road signs and blowing debris onto the roadway. Never cross a roadway where downed power lines, poles or transformers are present. Do not try to free lines or remove debris yourself. Call 911 if you observe such items on the roadway so emergency assistance can be provided.
The Iowa DOT recommends the following tips for safe winter travel during the impending storm.
Is the trip necessary? Trips during severe winter weather can take three or four times longer than normal. Often, delaying a trip by a few hours can give snow removal crews time to get the roads back to normal winter driving conditions. If you must travel, be sure to monitor road conditions and Iowa DOT snow plow locations by using the winter driving resources listed under the travel section of the Iowa DOT website, www.iowadot.gov.Or simply call 511 (within Iowa) or 800-288-1047 (nationwide).
Before you go, let someone know when you are leaving, when you expect to arrive and your intended route. Allow extra time to reach your destination.
Use your vehicle's safety equipment. Make sure you and your passengers are wearing their seat belts or are in a child safety seat. Your vehicle’s headlights are a valuable asset when driving in winter weather. Turn them on to see and be seen.
Use your winter driving skills. Do not use cruise control, it can make it difficult to maintain control if you hit a slick spot. Allow extra stopping distance by keeping distance between your vehicle and the one ahead. Avoid abrupt steering maneuvers. Slow down, accelerate more slowly, and apply the brakes in an even, controlled manner.
Carry an emergency survival kit and other supplies. Carry a mobile phone for making an emergency call; do not use it while driving.
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 reduce visibility for 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 and the front blade extends well ahead of the truck.
For media access to an Iowa DOT Highway Division spokesperson during this winter event, call 515-233-7960.