Winter storm could cause hazardous driving conditions

Published: Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013 8:58 a.m. CDT

A winter storm watch will be in effect tonight and will stretch into Sunday, and local police officials suggest that people check the weather before driving in what could be hazardous conditions.

Lt. Pat Gengler, a spokesman with the Kane County Sheriff’s Office, warned of the potential of a “worst-case scenario” of snow falling on frozen roads.

The advisory, issued by the National Weather Service, goes into effect at 6 p.m. today, and it will stretch through 6 p.m. Sunday. A freezing rain advisory was in effect Friday, causing the Geneva Police Department to issue a news release, urging people to “drive slowly, allow extra time for travel and maintain a safe distance from vehicles in front of you.”

Geneva Police Cmdr. Eric Passarelli said Friday that there were minor accidents, with no injuries, spread throughout town.

He said hills on the east side of town were icy, and that cars were getting stuck as they were traveling up the hills.

Gengler said Friday that conditions were icy, mostly from Route 64 to the north county line.

He said there were reports of cars sliding, but there were not many crashes as of Friday afternoon.

There is a greater potential for hazardous conditions during the winter storm watch period.

The forecast calls for snow and sleet accumulation, and weather officials have said that will change to all snow at some point. But they said it’s not clear when that will happen in Kane County, nor is it clear how much snow will fall in specific areas.

The storm watch does warn of “a possible mix with freezing rain, resulting in a glaze of ice,” which could occur this evening into early Sunday morning. That would create dangerous traffic conditions, the watch stated.

Gengler said sheriff’s officials will be keeping an eye on the weather.

“Snow by itself is difficult, especially if it is blowing, but if there is a freeze right before the snow, then it is a worst-case scenario,” Gengler said. “The roadways below the snow are frozen, and it really causes problems.”

Both Gengler and Passarelli suggested that residents monitor the weather and stay off the roads if possible.

“If the weather should deteriorate and the roadways become hazardous, I would recommend not traveling if you do not have to,” Passarelli said. “If you do have to drive, leave plenty of time for travel.”

Said Gengler: “If you have to go out, stay on main roadways and be prepared to be in your vehicle for an extended period of time. In blizzard conditions, there is a very real possibility that help may be hours, not minutes [away] should your car become disabled. Doing last-minute Christmas shopping may seem important, but compared to the hazards of driving in dangerous conditions, the presents can wait.”

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Jan Schlictmann at a Geneva law firm.

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