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More snow in forecast, officials offer safety driving tips

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Brainerd lakes area residents saw a slight break in the heavy snowfall Tuesday, but it was short-lived as the National Weather Service (NWS) in Duluth anticipated another 6-10 inches possible to fall in the area Wednesday.

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The NWS anticipates the storm total snowfall will range from 12-18 inches by the time the winter storm is finished in the cities of Brainerd, Pine River, Walker and Aitkin and surrounding areas. Crow Wing County, Cass and Aitkin counties continue to be in a winter storm warning through 6 p.m. Wednesday.

A fresh band of snow was expected to move into the area, bringing an additional 3-5 inches overnight on Tuesday. Additional rounds of snow are expected Wednesday and Wednesday night as the winter weather system moves across the area, the NWS said.

On Tuesday night, the winds were also expected to pick up to 15-25 mph, with some wind gusts up to 35 mph and the winds were expected to continue Wednesday.

With the snow and blowing wind, travel will be difficult. The NWS said untreated roads may be slick and hazardous. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) reported difficult travel over much of northern Minnesota. The combination of snow and strong winds also could result in localized power outages.

A winter storm warning for heavy snow means heavy snow accumulation is anticipated, said the NWS. Expect snow-covered roads and visibility less than a half mile at times. For those who must travel the NWS advises exercising extreme caution and allowing extra time to reach destinations. Drivers should let someone know their travel route and expected arrival time and have a working cellphone in case they become stranded.

From Monday’s wintery weather, the Minnesota State Patrol responded to 24 property damage crashes; five injury crashes; and one fatality in the Brainerd District. Statewide, there were 265 property damage crashes; and 36 injury crashes.

The following are safe winter driving tips from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety:

• Avoid unnecessary travel if conditions are too poor.

• Buckle up, and make sure child restraints are secured. It is recommended not to use bulky clothing when securing a child in a restraint. Use blankets on top of the child restraint harness, not beneath.

• Drive at safe speeds according to road conditions, and provide for plenty of travel time.

• Increase safe stopping distance between vehicles.

• If skidding, remain calm, ease foot off the gas, and turn the steering wheel in the direction you want the front of the vehicle to go.

• Clear snow and ice from vehicle windows, hood, headlights, brake lights and directional signals.

• Headlights must be turned on when it is snowing or sleeting.

• Do not use cruise control on snowy/icy/wet roads.

• Use extra precautions when driving around snowplows by keeping at least five car-lengths behind plows.

The MnDOT encourages motorists to give plows room to work and to slow down when encountering plows. Motorists also are reminded that as temperatures drop, ice may form and create slippery spots. Bridges also may become slippery.

The DPS’ Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management urges motorists to create a winter weather emergency kit for their vehicle in case they become stranded.

The kit should include:

• Coffee can and small candles and matches to use to melt snow for drinking water.

• Brightly colored bandana or cloth to hang from the vehicle window to signal help is needed.

• Large plastic garbage bags to tie around feet to keep them warm.

• Safety pins to secure the garbage bags.

• Whistle to alert authorities.

• Snacks.

• Cellphone adapter to plug into lighter.

• Plastic flashlight and spare batteries.

• Extra hats, mittens, boots and blankets.

Motorists who are stranded should remain in their vehicle and call 911 for help.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at jennifer.stockinger@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5851. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl.

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