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State, region under winter storm watch

5-6 inches of snow expected in Lyon County

MARSHALL — Southwest Minnesota will be seeing some difficult weather this weekend, and subzero wind chills overnight were just the start.

The National Weather Service is forecasting a strong winter storm, with around 5 to 6 inches of snow expected in Lyon County this weekend.

“There are a couple different bands of snow,” coming through the region, said Brad Adams, observation program leader at the National Weather Service office in Sioux Falls. Adams said most of the snow would likely fall through the day Friday and into Saturday morning. NWS forecasts said Lyon County could also see up to one-tenth of an inch of ice accumulation on Friday, but Adams said the area would predominantly be seeing snow.

In addition, high wind gusts are expected Friday into Saturday. Wind speeds could be 40 to 50 miles per hour, and cause drifting snow and reduced visibility, he said.

Area counties including Lincoln, Lyon and Murray will be in a winter storm watch from Friday morning through Saturday afternoon, the NWS said. A wind chill advisory will be in effect until 9 a.m. today for wind chills as low as 30 degrees below zero.

The NWS warned that blowing snow could impact travel this weekend, causing drifts and reduced visibility.

This week started out with slippery road conditions as well, with some freezing drizzle in the Marshall area.

“There have been quite a few (vehicles) in the ditch,” although not more than usual for the time of the year, said Josh Schafer of Pulver Towing in Marshall. The difficult thing for area motorists right now is that roadside ditches are full of snow, Schafer said. When there’s snow in the ditch, vehicles that go off the road tend to get stuck in the snow, or tip over.

Schafer said other hazards for drivers in the region include using cruise control in snowy conditions, and not using their headlights so other drivers can see them.

“When it’s blowing like this, you still need to have your headlights on,” Schafer said.

Sgt. Troy Christianson of the Minnesota State Patrol said a total of 26 vehicles were reported going off the road in the region on Monday and Tuesday. A total of 23 crashes were reported, including six crashes with injuries. Three incidents with jackknifed semi trucks were reported, Christianson said.

The NWS said difficult travel conditions are possible this weekend

If people absolutely have to travel this weekend, it’s important to be prepared for the weather, Adams said.

“People need to prepare now,” before the snow arrives, he said. It’s important to have a winter survival kit in the car, and to have fuel in the gas tank. Schafer recommended that motorists make sure their vehicles’ tires and batteries are in good condition, as well.

“During the winter, it’s important to drive at safe speeds according to road conditions, and give yourself plenty of travel time,” Christianson said. Drivers should slow down, allow for a longer stopping distance between vehicles, and turn on their headlights. State law requires the use of headlights when precipitation is present, he said.

Christianson said motorists should also be careful in icy conditions. Even if the road looks clear of snow and ice, almost-invisible “black ice” can still form when the air temperature is warmer than the pavement. Never use cruise control in snowy, icy or wet conditions, he said.

“Use extra precautions when driving around snowplows by keeping at least five car lengths behind plows,” Christianson said. “Be patient and remember snowplows are working to improve road conditions for your trip.”

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