Roads officials fear that high numbers of holiday travelers in the midst of a massive winter storm this weekend could lead to a spike in fatalities.
So they’re reminding people to monitor forecasts and road conditions as the storm moves through the eastern half of the United States.
The heaviest snow, ice and rain is expected to miss most major airports, so air travel could go relatively smoothly.
Chicago is the hub most likely to be affected, and Kansas City International also could see delays, said Tom Kines, meteorologist with AccuWeather, The World-Herald’s weather consultant.
Eppley Airfield is not expecting major weather delays, said Steve Coufal, executive director of the Omaha Airport Authority.
“Any delays that do occur will be managed by each respective airline,” he said.
Chris Martin, Eppley’s director of operations, said passengers should be sure their airline knows how to reach them and that people can sign up for cellphone applications that will advise of changes to flights.
Much of Kansas, virtually all of Missouri and a significant portion of southern and eastern Iowa are expected to bear the brunt of the storm as it moves northeasterly from Texas. Problems could range from flooding rains to ice to heavy snows.
Last weekend, when an icy storm moved across Missouri, nine people died. With Missouri in the bull’s-eye again, roads officials have heightened the alerts they send out.
“We’ll be out there doing what we can to keep roads safe, but in these types of situations we do usually ask people, if they don’t have to travel, to stay home,” said Melissa Black, spokeswoman for the northwest office of the Missouri Department of Transportation. “That’s always the best way to be sure you stay safe.”
State roads officials update road conditions on their websites and call-in lines, but Black said to check frequently because conditions can change quickly.