Frigid temps move in overnight; authorities advise a careful commute

Winter Weather

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — After that the season’s first snowfall tapered off Tuesday, temperatures fell quickly overnight — and Wednesday morning, wind chills are feeling like single digits.

The Pinpoint Weather Team has been predicting record-breaking temperatures for Wednesday morning, with the temperature bottoming out in the teens.

While the winds helped dry out roadways, the rapidly falling temperatures may leave slick conditions on others.

Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) Director Peter Alviti is reminding drivers to use caution during their commutes.

“The safety of the traveling public is our highest priority at RIDOT, and we work throughout the year to improve our winter storm response,” Alviti said. “We ask motorists to do their part by reducing speed, not passing or crowding plows and avoiding distraction.”

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Rhode Island State Police Col. James Manni is reminding drivers of best practices while driving when weather conditions aren’t ideal:

  • Remove all snow from your vehicle before driving. Failure to do so creates a hazard for you and others. It’s also a violation of state law, carrying an $85 fine.
  • Wear your seatbelt. It’s your best protection, in the event of a crash.
  • Turn on your headlights. State law requires that if your windshield wipers are on, your headlights must be on, too.
  • Slow down and allow extra distance between your vehicle and others. Even four-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles lose traction on snow- and ice-covered roads.
  • If your vehicle goes off the road or is involved in a crash, Call 911 and stay with your vehicle – if it is safe to do so – until help arrives.

AAA Northeast’s Mary Maguire said drivers should double-check four things before hitting the road: tires, batteries, wipers and emergency kits.

“What many people don’t know is that the hot temperatures also drain your battery. So let’s say your battery is at the end of its useful life and then it hits 12 degrees – that could be the end of your battery,” she said.

AAA: Winter Car Care Checklist »

Maguire expects most emergency calls to be for dead car batteries – though she also expects there to be some calls for lockouts from drivers accidentally leaving their keys inside their car while warming it up.

The weather conditions are also impacting air travel. The Pinpoint Flight Tracker shows a handful of delayed arrivals and departures primarily to and from the Midwest, which after some snowfall is now dealing with potentially record-breaking low temperatures.

Stay Informed: Pinpoint Flight Tracker »

Even though the official start of winter isn’t until Dec. 21, the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA) is asking everyone to use this as a prompt to prepare for wintry weather.

“Rhode Island often experiences snow and winter weather in late November and early December,” RIEMA Director Marc Pappas said. “Even though NOAA forecasters are predicting above-average temperatures for Rhode Island in their U.S. Winter Outlooks this year, snowstorms are still very likely to happen. We encourage families and businesses to prepare now before a storm strikes.”

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