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Time is right for winter weather awareness

ST. PAUL -- It's like weather and public safety officials planned a storm to pass through the Upper Midwest this week. Some snow is expected tonight in the western Dakotas, moving east into Minnesota and Wisconsin Wednesday and Thursday. Nothing ...

ST. PAUL -- It’s like weather and public safety officials planned a storm to pass through the Upper Midwest this week.

Some snow is expected tonight in the western Dakotas, moving east into Minnesota and Wisconsin Wednesday and Thursday.
Nothing big is predicted, just enough snow to put the exclamation point on Minnesota and Wisconsin’s Winter Weather Awareness Week, an event that comes after it was noted in North Dakota and South Dakota.
“Minnesota winters are traditionally unpredictable,” Director Joe Kelly of Minnesota’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management agency said. “Even if it turns out to be warmer than normal, there will still be cold and snowy days. Take the time to gather supplies for your vehicle and home before the first winter weather event.”
The National Weather Service reports that relatively warm air likely will prevent snow from falling on most of the area, but some heavy rain is possible at mid-week. “Accumulating snowfall seems unlikely.”
The best chance of snow comes in northeastern Minnesota late Thursday or early Friday, as well as western North Dakota tonight.
For instance, the Dickinson forecast, in southwest North Dakota, predicts a 20 percent chance of drizzle or snow today, with another chance Thursday.
But the Sioux Falls, S.D., forecast does not mention snow, calling for good chances of thunderstorms and rain on Wednesday, Veterans Day, with gusty winds.
In the Twin Cities and nearby western Wisconsin, the rain event is expected to last longer. Rains up to half an inch are predicted Veterans’ Day and night, with more rain possible on Thursday and a chance of a bit of snow Thursday night.
Once the precipitation ends, the weather is forecast to be nice for the weekend, with above normal temperatures, although rain may return in a week. Forecasters say they think weather will be mild through Thanksgiving.
Even with forecasts, winter always seems to arrive as a surprise.
“I think it’s very important that people understand what winter can hold,” WDAY/WDAZ-TV Meteorologist Aaron White said. “It happens every year, and people kind of forget over time about what happened last winter or that we had this really bad storm.”
Forecasters in the weather service’s Aberdeen, S.D., office offer up some questions Upper Midwesterners should ask:
“Do those drafty windows need a quick shot of caulking? Have you had your furnace checked to make sure it’s operating correctly, especially if it’s a gas-burning furnace? How are the belts, hoses and tires on the family vehicle? Are you afraid that the battery in the family vehicle won’t make it another winter? Do you remember what the various winter weather advisories, watches and warnings mean?”
Public safety offices suggest keeping winter weather survival kits in cars and planning winter trips in advance. Kits should include items ranging from blankets to warm clothes to flashlights with fresh batteries.
“If you slide off into a ditch and are stranded during a storm, food and other items in your kit could help keep you and your family safe until emergency help arrives,” said Major Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin adjutant general and homeland security advisor.
Added Minnesota state trooper Tiffani Schweigart: “Slow down if you absolutely have to drive in dangerous winter weather. Better yet, stay home. No social event is worth a loss of life or severe injury.”
In Minnesota, motorists will be better able to take a look at road conditions in places they want to go. The state added 92 cameras to the more than 800 already available on the Minnesota Department of Transportation 511 Website.
That is especially good for Greater Minnesota, “where camera images were lacking in the past,” MnDOT’s Kelly Braunig said. “Seeing is believing, so the photos will help motorists know what the road conditions are for where they are traveling.”
Minnesota, Wisconsin and other states now provide Web maps showing highway speeds in rural areas and some states superimpose weather warnings on their 511 road condition maps.

Up-to-date weather information
Get online winter weather tips for Minnesota at tinyurl.com/MNWWeather.
Get online traffic information at www.511mn.org .

Related Topics: WEATHER
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