NWS 11-16, 2016
National Weather Service meteorologists believe the first real taste of winter will come to the lower elevations of Wyoming by Thursday. In preparation, the NWS is encouraging people to build a vehicle winter safety kit and know where to get the latest weather forecasts and road conditions.
“When you travel Wyoming you can drive long distances without services, so travelers need to be ready to wait out a storm if they become stranded. Having a winter safety kit packed in your vehicle is a must,” said Tim Troutman, warning coordination meteorologist at the Riverton NWS office. A vehicle winter safety kit should at a minimum include non-perishable food, water, essential medications, blankets, flashlights, and a first aid kit. Troutman added that travelers should always dress for winter weather when driving and charge cell phones before departing. “We have heard too many stories of people wearing shorts and sandals when driving across Wyoming. Those won’t do you much good if you become stranded or are in an accident.”
Even with a winter safety kit packed in your vehicle, Troutman said travelers should be prepared to alter or cancel travel plans if hazardous driving conditions are expected. “Check the latest weather forecast at weather.gov/riverton or call the Riverton NWS office at 1-800-211-1448 to get the latest forecasts,” said Troutman. He added that NWS offices serving Wyoming also maintain an active social media presence. “We routinely use Facebook and Twitter to share important forecast and current weather and road conditions.”
Travelers are also encouraged to check the latest WYDOT road and travel information by calling 511 or by going online to http://wyoroad.info. Earlier this year WYDOT launched a new smart phone app that provides pre-trip and en route travel information. The app can be used to view the large WYDOT network of web cameras, a color-coded system that shows pavement conditions and traffic hazards, and it can provide traveler location information to friends and family. The app is available for both Android and Apple phones.
“Drivers need to keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road. The Wyoming 511 app will give you road conditions and traffic incidents for the route you are traveling, improving traveler safety,” said Cody Beers, WYDOT public relations specialist in Riverton. Beers added that motorists share responsibility of protection of life and property. “Give yourself extra time to reach your destination, drive at appropriate speeds to maintain vehicle control, always wear your seat belt, and stay well back from operating snow plows.”
Both Troutman and Beers say their agencies routinely coordinate winter weather impacts and messaging in an effort to provide a consistent message. “When we share the same message, it can increase traveler confidence in what conditions to expect,” said Beers. “We want everyone to make the best possible decision when choosing where and when to travel.”