By Samantha Pidde
Herald Staff Writer
Area residents are being warned to prepare for a major winter storm.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch early today for the area, stating that an intense winter storm is expected to move across the Midwest between Wednesday and Thursday nights and bringing the potential for heavy snow and very strong winds.
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According to the NWS website, http://forecast.weather.gov, the storm may bring six inches or more in snowfall.
In connection with the storm watch, a hazardous weather outlook message was also released this morning by the NWS. A major winter storm with the potential to produce "near blizzard conditions" is expected Wednesday and Thursday.
A mix of rain and snow will likely develop Wednesday, with a chance of snow by Thursday morning, according to the NWS. The storm watch calls for north to northwest winds of 25 to 35 miles per hour, with gusts of more than 50 miles per hour.
There is also the potential for significant snow, sleet and ice accumulations, according to the storm watch.
By Thursday morning, the NWS predicts that winds will increase along with the blizzard threat. The snow should end late Thursday and winds will subside by Friday morning.
People are warned to exercise caution during the storm. The NWS warns about limited visibilities and blowing and drifting snow.
“The combination of very strong winds and heavy snow Thursday could produce dangerous conditions,” the NWS storm watch states.
The storm watch means people who are traveling or commuting during this time should plan for dangerous and possibly “life-threatening conditions,” if stranded for prolonged periods. The Iowa Department of Transportation suggests that motorists make sure their vehicles are in good operating condition for winter time driving and take time to find out about the weather and road conditions. People are also encouraged to use good driving skills to avoid losing control of their vehicle and operate safely around snow removal equipment.