Northwest Iowa, southeast South Dakota and southern Minnesota are under a winter storm warning from 6 p.m. Tuesday night through midnight Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service at Sioux Falls, S.D. Forecasters predict light snow possible Tuesday morning, with snow in the afternoon accumulating from one to three inches. Snow will be heavy at times Tuesday evening, with accumulations of 5 to 7 inches. Snow may taper off briefly Wednesday morning before another round of snow moves into the area Wednesday afternoon, with an additional 4 to 7 inches of snow possible. Winds will be out of the northwest, 15 to 20 mph.
Area motorists are urged to check the weather forecasts and winter road condition reports closely before venturing out on the roadways in the next few days, advises the Iowa Department of Transportation.
Dennis Burkheimer, the DOT's winter operations administrator, said waves of winter weather this week will make the department's job of keeping Iowa roads safe a real challenge.
"If the winds pick up and temperatures drop, we can easily add an extra day or two to the clean up effort," Burkheimer said in a prepared statement.
Air temperatures are not expected to be bitterly cold with this event, but last week's cold snap did reduce the pavement and subsurface temperatures on many sections of roadway to below the freezing mark. Once pavement temperatures dip below freezing, ice is more likely to form on roadways, according to the DOT.
The DOT is prepared with approximately 163,000 tons of salt and more than one million gallons of salt brine to help maintain safe travel on 9,409 miles of state roadway. The DOT has 110 maintenance garages with approximately 1,200 employees and 898 trucks serving the public.
However, Burkheimer cautions that drivers must do their part to stay safe.
The DOT advises motorists to check forecasts and road conditions frequently. Plan ahead. Go to http://www.dotweatherview.com for regularly updated travel forecasts, and current weather and pavement conditions; or dial 511 to listen to prerecorded road condition information supplied by the Iowa State Patrol.
"If road conditions deteriorate, postpone your trip if you can. If you have to travel, buckle your seat belt, turn on your headlights, reduce your speed, drive defensively, and don't use your cruise control," said Burkheimer.
Motorists should also have an emergency kit in their vehicle, including an extra flashlight, food and water, as well as blankets and warm clothing.