Winter weather puts on its stormy faceA mix of large and fluffy flakes, barely-there flurries and drizzling showers on Tuesday gave southeastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin their first real taste of winter so far this year.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
A mix of large and fluffy flakes, barely-there flurries and drizzling showers on Tuesday gave southeastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin their first real taste of winter so far this year.
While uncharacteristically warm and dry weather has made the season feel like spring up to this point, local drivers may have forgotten how to handle slick roads.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety is reminding drivers to adapt their driving skills based on road conditions now that the snow is finally flying. If extra caution isn’t taken, accidents are likely to peak, as they usually do during the winter months, the DPS reported.
Preliminary data from 2011 showed that icy or snowy road surfaces caused nearly 17,000 crashes, which resulted in 5,339 injuries and 52 fatalities.
The Minnesota State Patrol is advising motorists to use judgment in driving at speeds that are safe for conditions. If the speed limit is 55 mph, but ice warrants driving 40, the latter speed is recommended.
In addition to slowing down, drivers should increase the distance between themselves and other vehicles to create enough space to safely come to a stop. If trying to stop on slippery roads results in skidding, the State Patrol instructs motorists to ease their foot off the gas pedal and turn the steering wheel in the direction they want the front of the vehicle to go.
The patrol also warns that:
• headlights are required to be on when snow or sleet is falling;
• cruise control should not be used on slick roads;
• snow and ice should be cleared from a vehicle’s windows, hood, headlights, brake lights and directional signals before it is operated.
Since teen drivers may not have had the opportunity to drive in winter weather conditions until today, parents are advised to make sure the new motorists experience snow and ice driving in a safe environment, such as an empty parking lot.
Slick conditions could be present through tonight as the National Weather Service predicts a 70 percent chance of snow, rain and sleet during most of the day, diminishing to a 20 percent chance by nighttime. Snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches is possible, NWS reports.