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Traveling this season?


In this week's winter weather preparation, we are talking about traveling. Winter is a time for snow, travel, storms, and more.

"It's kind of our typical winter storm," said Steve Runnels, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Springfield. "Often in the Ozarks, we will have a mixture of snow, sleet, and freezing rain when a winter storm comes through."

Another factor can be wind, which can occur under the right conditions. Something like the 2007 ice storm can arise if you put everything together. Which caused power outages, falling trees, and many accidents. An impact that is still remembered by some to this day.

"When looking at storms, we also have to look into the longevity of their impact," explained Runnels. "For example, a spring thunderstorm can come and go and cause damage. Typically, it has a short-lived impact, whereas a winter storm, whether it be snow or ice, will leave a much longer-lasting impact. Especially in rural areas where that snow and ice might be harder to move."

With it being the winter season, it is crucial to be prepared. Your vehicle should have an emergency kit with extra blankets, food, water, a mobile phone charger or power batteries, a First-aid kit, a Tow rope, and Battery booster cables.

"You need to also know what's in the forecast," said Runnels. "Try to reduce travel whenever wintery weather is forecast. That way you are safe, at home, prepared with food, fuel, supplies, everything you need just to hunker down for a couple of days."

Suppose readers find themselves on the road, and a winter storm hits. Runnels recommends letting people know your route and where you are going beforehand. He also reminds drivers that if it rains, drive slowly, as freezing rain can lead to black ice.

"Black ice in particular is a very real problem," said Runnels. "The first reason is you can't see it; second, it often forms after dark. Combine those factors with people typically driving faster than they should, and before they know it, they could hit a rough patch of ice and have dire consequences."

Other travel tips come from the Missouri Highway Patrol, which recommends checking road conditions before heading out. One way is by downloading the MoDOT Traveler Information app or calling (888) 275-6636.

Other recommendations include ensuring your vehicle is in good condition and allowing enough time to reach your destination safely. Make sure you are well rested before driving, no matter how short the travel destination is, and buckle up. Also, Winterize your vehicle before bad weather arrives, but realize that sometimes, it's safest to stay home.

If traveling for the holidays, be aware of your surroundings and other drivers. The Highway Patrol reports that 1,017 traffic crashes occurred statewide over the 2022 Christmas holiday. In those crashes, four people were killed, and another 318 were injured.

As the holidays arrive, be safe and exercise good judgment. For more information, visit the NWS website at www.weather.gov/sgf/ or check out their YouTube channel, NWS Springfield.


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