Washington State University and law enforcement agencies are warning students driving back to Pullman this weekend to use extreme caution on the roads as a snowstorm is expected to hit eastern Washington this weekend.
In a message posted Wednesday on Twitter, the university recommended students not wait until Sunday to come back to campus, and it directed them to the National Weather Service and Washington State Department of Transportation for updates on the weather and road conditions. Classes for the spring semester begin Monday.
According to the National Weather Service, as much as 8 inches of snow could accumulate today, as well as additional snowfall occurring Saturday and Sunday.
WSU Police Assistant Chief Steve Hansen advised students to look in advance what the forecast will be before they hit the road to Pullman and expect hazardous weather.
“Just make an informed decision when you decide to come back,” he said.
He also recommended they bring an emergency kit with spare water, blankets and jackets in their vehicle.
Those students who arrive early will have access to the student residences and food services on campus, he said.
He said there were no collisions on campus early Thursday morning, even with the overnight snowfall.
“(Today) could be a different story,” he said.
WSDOT warns travelers to drive slower, leave extra space between their vehicle and the one in front of them, do not use cruise control and give snowplows extra room on the road.
Washington State Patrol Trooper Jeff Sevigney said drivers, most importantly, should leave themselves plenty of time to reach their destination as it will take them longer than usual to get there.
He said it is the driver’s responsibility to stay safe on the roadway, use commons sense and avoid distractions such as cellphones.
“Take it easy and hopefully everybody arrives safely,” he said.
The Spokane Regional Health District issued a health advisory also warning people of the extreme cold temperatures forecast to follow the snowfall. Temperatures are expected to fall to single digits at night and 10-20 degrees in the daytime next week.
According to a Thursday news release from WSP and NWS, people are advised to stock up on emergency supplies, check on the winter storm forecast, have appropriate cold weather clothing available, make sure fireplaces function properly and fill their vehicle’s gas tank.
If individuals do go outdoors, officials advise them to wear several layers of loose fitting, lightweight warm clothing. Mittens, hats and scarves are recommended, too. People are being asked not to drive unnecessarily.
Anthony Kuipers can be reached at (208) 883-4640, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.