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Iowa DOT issues travel update


This news story was published on February 4, 2012.
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AMES, Iowa – Feb. 4, 2012, 4 p.m. – The moderate to heavy snow will diminish late this afternoon before ending later evening and exiting Iowa, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT). Total snow accumulations will be in the range of 4 to 10 inches, with the heavier amounts expected over west central Iowa near Atlantic and Audubon ranging farther east toward the Earlham area.

Persons traveling in west central and south central Iowa are advised to exercise additional caution. Northeast winds of 15 to 25 mph with a few higher gusts may cause some blowing and drifting of snow this afternoon and evening, limiting visibility – at times to less than a quarter mile.

Travelers can check the latest wind speeds, directions and gusts on the Iowa DOT’s road weather information system – http:/weatherview.iowadot.gov/ – that collects and reports data from atmospheric towers located along Iowa’s roadways and at its airports.

In addition, the Iowa DOT advises motorists to be aware that roads could become slick and to watch for wheel-track glazing or black ice on the road.

The combination of light blowing snow and cold surface temperatures could result in icy roadways due to a phenomenon called wheel-track glazing. “Wheel-track glazing” is caused by warm tires trapping ground-level light or blowing snow. As more vehicles travel over the same wheel tracks a glaze of ice forms, which becomes very slippery. The condition is difficult for Iowa DOT crews to treat because the ice is continuously forming on heavily traveled roadways.

Black ice is a dangerous wintertime hazard because ice on the road may not always be visible to the driver. Melted snow or ice that refreezes may look deceivingly like a dry road. Temperatures do not have to be below freezing for black ice to develop. Black ice can occur if temperatures are near the freezing mark – or even a few degrees above it. It is most commonly found on roads around bodies of water (such as lakes and rivers), in rural areas, and on bridges and overpasses, but it can form unexpectedly on any road surface. Because black ice is tricky to detect, a driver may not realize there is an icy road surface until their vehicle begins to slide.
Winter driving is always unpredictable, so be prepared for the unexpected. Remember the simple slogan, “Ice and Snow … Take It Slow.”

When the roads are icy
· If your vehicle begins to slide, take your foot off the gas pedal and shift into neutral, or if you have a manual transmission, depress the clutch. While it may be a natural instinct to slam on your brakes, this may cause your vehicle to slide further and result in loss of vehicle control. Tap the brake pedal lightly.

· If you have an idea that there may be ice ahead (if you see vehicles ahead of you sliding, for example), downshift to a lower gear before you come onto the ice. The lower gear will force you to drive more slowly and give you better control of your vehicle.

· If your vehicle does begin to skid on the ice, turn the wheel in the direction of the skid. This should help to steer your vehicle back on the right track.

· Stay well behind the vehicle in front of you. Even if you feel confident that you know how to drive safely on ice, that does not mean the driver in front of you does. Be prepared in case other vehicles start to slide.

· Do not think you are invincible just because you drive a four-wheel drive truck or sports utility vehicle. Four-wheel drive vehicles have no advantage over other vehicles when it comes to driving on ice.

· Make sure you and your passengers are wearing their seat belts or other safety restraints.

The Iowa DOT recommends travelers carefully monitor weather and road conditions. For road condition information, visit www.511ia.org, call 511 (within Iowa) or 800-288-1047 (nationwide)

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