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‘Don’t underestimate this storm’ Wisconsin DOT warns against traveling Friday as some schools close


The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is urging people to use extreme caution with this incoming storm.

Meanwhile, some schools have closed for Thursday, with a complete list at the end of this story.

The National Weather Service is forecasting strong winds and blowing snow to pick up Thursday evening through Friday night across all of Wisconsin.

With wind gusts up to 55 miles per hour, a blizzard is possible. This can create white-out conditions and make driving difficult to impossible, especially for high-profile vehicles.

“Don’t underestimate this storm. The conditions are such and the temperatures are such that things like salt are going to be, in many cases, ineffective. It’s just too cold. The wind would blow the salt off the roadway anyway. My best advice is to seriously reconsider whether or not you’re going to travel,” said Tim Carnahan, Wisconsin State Patrol Superintendent.

If you are on the roads, the Wisconsin DOT is telling people to slow down, give plows 200 feet, buckle up, and put down the phone.

Make sure you have an emergency kit in your and a lot of extra clothes.

If you become stranded, tow trucks might not be able to make it out to you in these conditions.

Carnahan says you can call 911, but you need to be prepared to wait.

“We’ll get people out there as soon as we can, but we do expect to be very, very busy out here. Plan to be out there for a little while. That’s why we ask people to really have a lot of warm clothing. Make sure you bring a fully charged cell phone along with a cell phone charger,” he said.

Randy Hoyt is the traffic management unit supervisor at the Traffic Management Center in Milwaukee.

The staff there monitor road conditions 24/7, 365 days a year.

“Wisconsin doesn’t proactively close highway. The weather closes the highway. Much like if there is a crash that shuts down lanes of the highway or both directions, the incident closes the highway,” said Hoyt. “Our responsibility is to coordinate with the division of state patrol, Wisconsin emergency management, local law enforcement, county highway commissioners to figure out the best way clean up the road and make it passable again.”

Checking 511 Wisconsin is the best way to see road conditions.

It’s regularly updated and there are cameras for you to view the highways.

It’s available online and to download as an app.

Here's the list of school closings for Thursday, December 22nd

All School District of Rhinelander Schools Closed

Antigo - Closed

Lakeland Union High School Closed Thursday

Nativity Of Our Lord Catholic School Rhinelander - Closed

Trinity Lutheran - Minocqua - Closed Thursday

Zion Lutheran School Rhinelander - Closed

Gilman Closed Thursday and Friday

North Lakeland School Closed

Phelps - School and Daycare Closed

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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