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Communities brace for freezing rain, DOT stresses planning ahead and caution

Posted at 5:20 PM, Feb 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-21 18:20:33-05

Communities have been setting up their best defense before a long stretch of freezing rain hits southeast Wisconsin.

Drivers with Waukesha County started packing trucks with salt and filling up on gas early on Monday. Hans Guderyon, highway patrol superintendent for the county's southwest quadrant, planned for up to a nearly quarter-inch of ice.

Guderyon said the county will have 15 to 20 workers on hand as the rain starts.

"Just to check make sure it doesn't flash freeze instantly and the moment that those guys start feeling ice anywhere we'll get the entire crew all 52 patrol workers out on the road salting," Guderyon said.

With ice, it is a balancing act where timing is crucial.

"It's not like we can plow it off. It's simply, try to melt it the best we can and try to stay on top of it," Guderyon said.

"It doesn't really matter the duration of the storm. It's planning ahead," said Michael Pyritz, regional communications manager for Wisconsin Department of Transportation's southeast region.

Icy conditions are expected to last well into Tuesday. Overpasses and other bridges will be some of the most vulnerable spots. The DOT reminded drivers to check road and weather conditions before heading out and to use common sense when driving.

Pyritz urged people to slow down and increase their distance.

"The posted speed limit that is out there those are for dry clear conditions. Icy, overcast you need to slow down. The posted speed limits are not for tomorrow," Pyritz said.

As the ice moves in, so do concerns about it weighing down tree branches and taking out power. We Energies encouraged people to report any outages and asked for understanding that their crews are also up against the weather.

"Our response time may be impacted by slick roads. We can only get to an area as fast as we can safely drive," said Brendan Conway, spokesperson for We Energies.

Milwaukee's Department of Public Works has increased available forestry staff for tree emergencies.

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