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Staying safe on the roads in the mid-Willamette Valley this season

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With areas in the mid-Willamette Valley getting the first snowfall of the season Sunday, Nov. 6 — in between downpours of rain — it’s a good time to remind drivers how to stay safe when hitting slick roads this fall and winter.

Local police and fire agencies are offering up tips to keep travelers alert and safe on the roads as wet weather becomes the norm.

Driving tips

The Benton County Sheriff’s Office gave some wet weather driving reminders to community members via an agency Facebook post.

Driving tips 01

Traffic on Northwest Walnut Boulevard in Corvallis during the rainstorm Monday morning, Nov. 7, 2022. Drivers are urged to slow down, give extra space between their car and other vehicles and to use their headlights in wet and slick conditions.

The law enforcement agency urged drivers to slow down, give extra space between their car and other vehicles and to use their headlights.

“Vehicles on wet roads need more time to stop. The rain brings out the oils on the roadway and makes them slick,” the post said.

Drivers should also avoid hard braking and sudden movements.

Albany Police Department Community Engagement Officer Laura Hawkins said other safety tips include not using cruise control and allowing more time to get to your destination.

“Don’t be in a hurry, plan ahead,” she said. “Make sure your tires are good and you have plenty of gas.”

When it comes to high water and flooding, Hawkins said drivers should not overestimate their vehicle’s abilities.

“Don’t drive into somewhere you can’t see the road,” she said. “People always think they can get through high water.”

One more piece of advice Hawkins gave involves crime. According to Hawkins, Albany police has seen a huge uptick in the number of stolen vehicles in the area, so Hawkins urged community members to not leave their car running while they grab a quick coffee or run inside to get their wallet.

She said it can be tempting to warm up a vehicle in the cold weather, but there’s nothing more frustrating than a thief stealing your car in a matter of minutes.

What to keep in your car

In an agency Facebook post, the Corvallis Fire Department said one of its medic units responded to a car accident on Marys Peak on Sunday. While no one was injured, the agency wanted to remind community members that winter weather is here and travelers should be prepared.

Drivers should keep the following items in their cars:

  • Snow chains
  • Extra food/water/blankets
  • Axe for fallen trees/branches
  • First aid kit
  • Emergency flares
  • Mini shovel
  • Flashlight

Types of warnings

On Sunday, the National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for the cities of Corvallis, Albany and Lebanon through 10 p.m. that evening.

Knowing the different types of warnings the weather service may issue this season will help community members know how to react in various situations.

A winter weather advisory means wintry weather is expected. This could mean light amounts of precipitation or patchy blowing snow. These conditions will cause roads to be slick, so the NWS suggests exercising caution.

The agency will issue a winter storm watch when snow, sleet or ice is possible. In this case, travelers should be prepared. A storm watch means there is “medium confidence” a winter storm could produce heavy snow, sleet or freezing rain that could cause significant impacts to road conditions.

Finally, if the National Weather Service issues a winter storm warning, community members should take action. This type of warning means the confidence level is high that a winter storm will produce heavy snow, sleet or freezing rain.

On Monday afternoon, the agency issued a flood advisory for Linn and Benton counties in effect until 4:45 p.m. Monday. The advisory said to expect minor flooding in low-lying and poor drainage areas as well as ponding of water in urban area.

According to the NWS, a flood advisory means citizens should be aware of minor flooding that may cause “significant inconvenience” and potentially dangerous conditions. A flood warning is more severe and indicates a hazardous weather event (flooding) is already happening or imminent.

More local crime and public safety coverage

Maddie Pfeifer covers public safety for Mid-Valley Media. She can be contacted at 541-812-6091 or Madison.Pfeifer@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter via @maddiepfeifer_

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Maddie Pfeifer is the public safety/crime and courts reporter for Mid-Valley Media. She has a bachelor's degree in communication studies from the University of Portland. In her free time, she enjoys watching movies and spending time outdoors.

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