La Crosse highway officials warning drivers to plan ahead of first major winter storm
LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — More than 1.1 million Wisconsinites are heading out the road this holiday weekend. However, some roads in the area could end up with 6 inches of snow or more.
“Looking at our first winter storm of the year moving in,” said Clint Aegerter, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in La Crosse.
Some states are already experiencing their first winter obstacle.
“There will certainly be significant travel impacts for those traveling for the holidays,” Aegerter said.
Tuesday night, roads around and north of La Crosse could receive anywhere from an inch to 10 inches of snow.
“Amounts of less than an inch, we will start seeing slide-offs and accidents,” Aegerter said. “Maybe change travel plans if needed.”
Tim Hammes, Patrol Superintendent with the La Crosse County Highway Department said drivers need to plan ahead.
“Obviously, slow down,” Hammes said. “Get up and leave early in the morning.”
La Crosse Regional Airport director Ian Turner said his staff has been preparing for this since September so they don’t have to delay flights.
“We do everything we possibly can to avoid that,” Turner said.
They have their own unique plows to keep their runways clear.
“We have two of those,” Turner said. “They can start from a fresh snowfall and clear the runway in 30 minutes or less.”
La Crosse highway plow drivers are bracing themselves for an early morning.
“We try to have the trucks on the road between 4 and 5 in the morning,” Hammes said.
Eugene Brueggen has been behind the wheel of a snowplow for 20 years.
“I just loaded up,” Brueggen said. “I have my plow back on. We are ready to go.”
He asks drivers stay at least 13 car lengths behind them while they work.
“People forget about the snow season,” he said.
Wisconsin State Trooper Matt Chambers said to consider some 2018 statistics before getting behind the wheel.
“There were almost 19,000 crashes, close to 4,000 injuries and 45 fatalities during the winter,” Chambers said. “Just because the road doesn’t have snow on it doesn’t mean the road is not slippery.”
He said it’s not how fast people get to their destination, it’s only about getting to their destination.
“Thanksgiving is a time for family,” Chambers said. “Show up and be a part of that family. Don’t end up in a hospital or worse because you were in a hurry.”
National Weather Service forecasters say even when the snow stops there will be high winds that will blow the snow onto roads. Find the latest information about road conditions by calling 511 or visiting 511wi.gov.
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