NWS predicts rough travel weather

Published 3:08 pm Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The weather Wednesday is going to be more hazardous than people thought.

The National Weather Service is warning Thanksgiving travelers to take it easy as they drive to their destinations Wednesday evening. Precipitation is more than likely and southern Minnesota is going to be getting a mixture of freezing rain, with possible sleet and snow in the mix, according to Todd Rieck, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

“You’re going to have to put a lot of thought as to when you leave and what route you take,” Rieck said.

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Whereas little to no ice accumulation was expected as of Tuesday morning, Rieck said the Austin area could see ice up to a tenth of an inch and possibly an inch of snow. There’s a 70 percent chance of precipitation Wednesday. Freezing rain is likely before 1 p.m. and after 8 p.m. Wednesday, with wind gusts as high as 40 mph throughout the day.

“It could be very treacherous,” Rieck said. “If you have an option to leave Wednesday morning, I would suggest that over later in the day.”

Although there are no road closures or blockages near Austin, anyone traveling to the west of here will encounter shut down roads at state Highway 66, between Blue Earth County Road 9 and U.S. Highway 169. State Highway 71, between Cottonwood County Road 25 and state Highway 60, is also closed, according to the state Department of Transportation.

Thursday morning should be a better time to start holiday trips. The NWS is predicting partly sunny skies on Thanksgiving Day with a high of 20. Strong winds are still expected throughout the day Thursday and should continue into Friday. Early morning shoppers can expect a wind chill between -5 and -10 degrees, according to Rieck.

Regardless, roads aren’t going to be safe Wednesday evening.

“If you have to travel later in the day on Wednesday, please exercise caution,” Rieck said.