Sheriff recommends no travel
WORTHINGTON -- The warnings began days ago. Ice. Heavy snow. High winds. Some meteorologists have referred to the expected bad weather as "the Blizzard of the Century" and "the worst storm in 25 years."
"This thing has been predicted as one of the biggest storms we've had in a long time, and it was predicted a long way out," said Nobles County Sheriff Kent Wilkening. "People should pay attention."
Wilkening said he'd rather be too cautious than underestimate the storm's power, and is recommending no travel after Wednesday afternoon.
"If you're going to go someplace, you should be on your way now," he said Wednesday morning.
By Thursday, Wilkening said the only travel should be in emergency situations, and if someone does have to leave the house, be ready.
"Make sure there is a winter survival kit in the vehicle, adequate clothing, a full tank of gas, a cell phone and a cell phone charger," Wilkening said. "Don't leave your house unprepared."
While it is law enforcement's job to come out and help, Wilkening said he hopes his department doesn't get calls from somebody who landed in a ditch or snow bank because of poor visibility and icy roads after no travel was advised.
"We don't have magic vehicles that will get through when yours doesn't - we have the same as everybody else," Wilkening cautioned. "My guys have families, too, and I want to see them come home safely."
If a call of a stranded motorist is received, Wilkening said his deputies and dispatchers will assess the situation.
"We'll find out what they have with them," he explained. "Are there small children? Do they have a full tank of gas, adequate clothing, water and food?"
If the situation is critical, Wilkening said a decision would have to be made on how his department would get to the stranded people, even if they have to attempt to make arrangements to follow a county or state plow to the vehicle.
"We'll try to make it," he added.
If you find yourself sitting in a vehicle in a snow bank or ditch, stay with the car, Wilkening stated. Run the vehicle to stay warm, and get out to check the exhaust occasionally to make sure the pipe isn't covered, which could cause carbon monoxide issues inside.
"I'd prefer they not travel in the weather that's coming, but I can't stop them," he stated. "I'd rather overcall this thing than have somebody get frozen out there."