Traveling for Thanksgiving? Here's what you need to know and when to hit the road
Five tips to stay safe on icy, snowy roads in Iowa. Des Moines Register
Will Iowans intending to travel for Thanksgiving be heading out into a nuisance of light precipitation, or a maelstrom of snow, slush, wind and cold?
A big part of the answer depends on geography.
Snow, cold temperatures and wind are predicted to hit northwestern parts of Iowa, and other states such as South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and northern Michigan, according to the National Weather Service of Des Moines.
Winter conditions have the potential to impact traffic, especially during a holiday season with more drivers on the road.
If you're one of those travelers, especially going west or north, here's what you need to know:
Tuesday night is when the storm is expected to hit warned areas hardest.
"We are expecting the greatest amount of snow fall to be between 5 and 8 inches, that would include Storm Lake, Estherville, Mason City, and Sioux City," NWS meteorologist Allan Curtis said."It's not just how much snow you get, but when you get it; the silver lining is a good chunk of the snow is expected to be overnight."
With temperature highs throughout the week predicted in the 30s and 40s, with lows down to the 20s, there's also a possibility of some rain and icy roads.
Curtis warns travelers that traffic, if impacted, will be during Tuesday's rush hour and Tuesday evening.
So if you just can't wait to argue about politics at the Thanksgiving table and want to avoid traffic, here are suggested times to travel:
- Avoid traveling early Wednesday morning, around 4 a.m. to 7 a.m., to and from the Des Moines Metro area. During this block of time, bridges and untreated roads are the main concern. Every other time has no predicted storm impacts.
- Mason City is expected to experience elevated to significant weather conditions and hazardous travel from 7 p.m. Tuesday until 10 a.m. Wednesday. If you can, avoid this time range.
- Similar to Mason City, Estherville will experience significant hazardous travel conditions from 7 p.m. Tuesday to 10 a.m. Wednesday.
- Waterloo is good to go on Tuesday. Starting at 1 a.m., it will have some hazardous conditions. The more serious travel conditions will be between 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. Wednesday. After 10 a.m., you should be good to go.
- Fort Dodge will start to experience less hazardous travel conditions 7 to 10 p.m. Tuesday, becoming more significant after 10 p.m. The most difficult time to travel will be 4 a.m. to 7.a.m.
"The main thing is to just be prepared for winter driving conditions, knowing that you may encounter these types of conditions if you are going out," NWS meteorologist Craig Cogil said. "It's a holiday week; there's more travel, more people on the roads. Slow down, and leave early for your destination."
Wednesday should be clear of snow, Curtis said, but wind speeds could reach 45 mph.
Andrea Sahouri covers breaking news for the Des Moines Register. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, 515-284-8247 or on Twitter at @andreamsahouri.
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