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Travel Alert issued statewide in advance of winter storm

January 10, 2013

The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) has issued a statewide Travel Alert through Saturday morning in advance of the National Weather Service (NWS) forecasted winter storm to impact the state.

The NWS has issued a Winter Storm Watch for western and central North Dakota late tonight through Saturday morning and a Freezing Rain Advisory for southeast ND tonight through Friday afternoon, at which time changing to a Winter Storm Watch. NWS forecasts indicate the potential for mixed rain and snow and freezing rain to impact the state tonight which may create hazardous road conditions. The storm system is expected for areas of the state to receive heavy snow, winds, near blizzard conditions, and dangerous wind chills.

Motorists are urged to use caution as this winter weather event intensifies across the state potentially causing road conditions to deteriorate throughout the night into Friday. For road information, call 511 from any type of phone or go to the website: www.dot.nd.gov.

NDDOT reminds motorists to use the following safety tips if traveling during this storm:
· “Know Before You Go” by checking road conditions BEFORE you travel. Check the Travel Information Map or call 511.
· Turn on your lights. This will increase your visibility to other motorists and snowplow operators. Brush snow from your car that could cover your tail lights.
· Slow down and drive according to the conditions. Most winter crashes are caused by driving too fast for conditions. Snowplows typically move at slower speeds.
· Never drive through “white-outs” or “snow fog” caused by cross winds or plowing snow. Wait until you can see.
· Stay back at least five car lengths behind the plow, far from the snow fog and any sanding material being spread; snowplow operators will turn off the sander, pull over, or raise the plow for better visibility when it is safe to do so to allow traffic to pass.
· Be patient. Allow more time to get to your destination. Remember snowplows are working to improve road conditions for your trip.
· Know where the plow is on multi-lane roadways. The plow could be in either lane or on the shoulder.
· Be extremely cautious when passing a snowplow. They can be moved sideways by drifts and hard snow pack.
· Watch for plow trucks on interstate ramps and “authorized vehicle only” cross-overs.
· Don’t assume that you’ll have good traction because the road looks sanded. The sand can sink into the snow pack, leaving a slick surface.
· Never use cruise control on wet or icy roadways.

NDDOT releases information to inform the public about travel conditions throughout the state. The three categories are as follows:

1. TRAVEL ALERT – Motorists can still travel but may encounter areas of challenging winter weather driving conditions on roadways. Motorists should allow extra time to reach their destination and be alert to conditions that may make travel difficult, change rapidly, or cause travel delays. A TRAVEL ALERT has the potential to change to a NO TRAVEL ADVISED if conditions deteriorate.

2. NO TRAVEL ADVISED – Motorists should not travel due to hazardous conditions which may make it unsafe to travel. Snowplows may be pulled from the roads during severe conditions. Motorists should take NO TRAVEL ADVISED seriously as those motorists who choose to travel at their own risk may become stranded and emergency responders may not be able to reach them safely. A NO TRAVEL ADVISED has the potential to change to a ROAD CLOSED OR BLOCKED if conditions deteriorate.

3. ROAD CLOSED OR BLOCKED – Motorists are not allowed to travel on a closed road due to life threatening conditions. The road may be impassible or blocked. Motorists who drive past a road closure device may be fined up to $250.

Please be advised that road condition information on 511 and the travel map is updated daily from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m. CDT. The road report is based upon the information available to the NDDOT at the time of preparation and is provided solely as a public service. Conditions may vary from those reported.

If you become stranded, motorists should stay with their vehicle and call 911 for emergency assistance.

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