First major snowstorm expected tonight, DOT officials urge caution
The National Weather Service has issued winter weather notices for much of far western Wisconsin as the first major snowstorm of the season approaches.
A winter weather advisory is in effect for St. Croix, Polk and most of Dunn counties while a winter weather watch has been issued for Pierce, Pepin and far-southern Dunn counties.
Tony Zaleski, a NWS forecaster, said that 4-7 inches of snow is possible in the watch area while 3-4 inches of snow is expected in the areas covered by the winter weather advisory.
"We are expecting the snow to begin in far western Wisconsin after 5 p.m. tonight and to wrap up at around 5 a.m. Tuesday.
According to meteorologists at the NWS facility in Chanhassen, Minn., a storm system is organizing over the plain states and they expect it to tract across the Iowa-Missouri border area later tonight.
This will bring the potential for heavy snow across southern Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin later today (Monday) and through the night.
In addition to the snow, forecasters are also predicting winds of 20 - 30 mph to pick up over the night and cause blowing snow.
Officials with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation are urging motorists to be ready for the slick roads and potentially hazardous conditions.
They advise motorists to stay home during the storm, but if travel is necessary motorists should make sure they have a disaster supply kit in the car and a full tank of gas.
The kit should include: extra blankets or sleeping bags, extra warm and protective clothing, water and non-perishable food, a portable radio and batteries, flares and a large, brightly colored cloth, and a cell phone.
If a motorist becomes stuck, DOT officials recommend that they stay with their vehicle, tie a bright-colored cloth to the car where someone else could see it.
They also recommend that motorists run the engine for about 10 minutes every hour and keep the exhaust pipe free. Motorists should also leave the overhead light on while the car is running to improve the chance of the vehicle being seen.
They also recommend that stranded motorists keep arms and legs moving in order to keep blood circulating and to stay warm.
Finally, motorists should keep a window that is away from blowing wind slightly open to allow in air.
Motorists should also let someone else know where they are going and their planned route and then call that person after arrival at the destination.