F-M Prepares for Winter Weather
Department of Transportation Observes Winter Weather Awareness Week
Published: Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 14:10
Leaving work on Saturday, NDSU senior Kaylee Mootz saw her car was covered in snow and thought, “It’s starting already.”
Highway patrol probably thought the same thing, as they encountered 40 cars in the ditch that night.
This week is severe winter weather awareness week, and the department of transportation held a meeting with speakers Greg Gust from the National Weather Service, Brandon Beise from NDDOT and Bryan Niewind from Highway Patrol. The meeting was brief, and each man stressed that the most important thing to remember is to be prepared and slow down.
Niewind said in a press release that it is important to have a winter survival kit that includes extra water, food, warm clothes, a flashlight and a radio.
“I do actually,” junior Jenna Galegher responded when asked if she had an emergency kit in her car. “That is all my dad’s doing. There’s a blanket, jumper cables, one of those army food instant meals, a little shovel, ice scraper and a flashlight.”
Two years ago the valley had double the usual amount of snow, and last year there was only half the usual amount. This year, Gust said in the release, the National Weather Service predicts 50 or more inches, which could come “in two big blizzards or 37 little blasts.”
Beise explained in the release that drivers should “know before you go,” using travel information maps and the 511 system to access road condition information.
There are three warnings to understand for road alerts. Travel Alert warns of rapidly changing conditions, No Travel Advisory means no road closure but conditions do not allow safe travel, and Road Closure indicates there is a life-threatening danger to motorists.
Galegher and Mootz agreed that the most important advice for drivers is to slow down and be aware. Another tip is to not use cruise control during the winter, said Niewind.
Other important tips that drivers are asked to remember are to keep a safe distance behind snow plows, move over to the far lane if there are NDDOT flashing lights, and to never go around a road closure gate—not only is it extremely dangerous but the penalty is a $150 fine.
NDSU is also preparing for the winter and sent out an email to campus describing annual procedures for weather announcements. Students are encouraged to enroll in the CENS procedure by accessing campus connection and choosing to participate on the Emergency Notification Update screen.
There is also information on the NDSU website and update line at 231-4636, as well as several media outlets.
Mootz finds her information on weather and school announcements on valleynewslive.com. Although Mootz does not have a specific survival kit in her car, if she ever needs to drive in poor weather she always makes sure to take warm clothing, a shovel and make sure her phone is charged, she said.
National Weather Service did have some good news: the drought and warmer fall will benefit the region in terms of flooding for the spring, Gust said, and the best thing the valley can do is just be prepared for anything.
Mootz was luckily not in a ditch Saturday night, but as the weather worsens she will continue to take her own advice to drive slowly and cautiously; hopefully all other drivers will do the same.