The Iowa Department of Transportation is warning travelers about unsafe driving conditions that will arise from the winter storm Thursday.
The DOT issued a warning that travel is not advised for most of the state through noon on Thursday. Blizzard conditions are expected due to heavy snowfall of up to 10 inches in some areas and winds as strong as 45 miles per hour. The blowing snow could create drifting on roads and white-out conditions.
Though drivers are being advised to stay off the roads, if they must travel the DOT has some safety tips:
Blizzard conditions, like the scene above from 2011, are expected to prevail Thursday. As of press time Wednesday night, forecasters were predicting a total accumulation of 9 to 13 inches overnight. The Iowa Department of Transportation issued a warning Wednesday afternoon urging motorists to stay off the roads through midday Thursday.
- Use your mobile phone to call 911 for emergency assistance.
- Guide emergency personnel to your location by observing any exit numbers, mileposts, crossroads or landmarks.
- Pull as far off the road as possible to avoid getting hit by other vehicles.
- Turn on your vehicle's warning/flashing lights.
- Remain with your vehicle. Your vehicle provides the shelter necessary to survive and allows you to be found by rescue personnel.
- Remain calm and be patient. It may take considerable time for someone to reach your vehicle during a storm as emergency personnel typically are assisting multiple persons.
- Make sure your vehicle's gas tank is full before starting your trip. If you become stranded, run your vehicle about 10 minutes every hour to stay warm.
- Crack a window in the vehicle to avoid carbon monoxide build-up; and clear away any snow from the vehicle's tailpipe so the exhaust can escape.
- Utilize the resources in your winter survival kit.
Shelby Kroona, administrator for Hamilton County Public Health, urged travelers to take a few minutes to assemble a survival kit.
"That could prove to be a lifesaver if they become stranded or stuck in the snow," she said. She suggested that the survival kit include such items as granola bars, blankets, flashlights and bottled water.
"Also, before travelers leave home, be sure cell phones are fully charged," she said. Cell phones can provide a link with emergency and rescue personnel. She also advised travelers to let a friend or family member know the route they plan to take.
Take care moving snow
Driving isn't the only hazard for local residents. Health officials warn that many may overdo snow removal which could result in sore muscles, fatigue and possibly heart-related issues.
"I think this storm may catch many off guard following the mild winter last year," said Shelby Kroona, Hamilton County Public Health administrator.
She said people shoveling walks and driveways should not be afraid to take frequent breaks, especially if the snow is wet and heavy.
"They should take a break if they experience muscle fatigue or shortness of breath," Kroona said. "If they have numbness, tingling in their arms or pain in their chest, that may be a sign of a heart attack and they should seek immediate medical help."
Those working outside should also dress in layers to keep warm, Kroona said. If the temperature drops into the teens and single digits, she said it's important to cover exposed skin on the face with scarves and hats to prevent frostbite.
"And if your gloves get wet, change them out to help avoid frostbite on your hands," she said.