WisDOT warns drivers of strong winds, traffic hazards

MADISON, Wis. — Strong winds are expected to continue to impact roads in Wisconsin, prompting a warning to drivers from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

Significant winds accompanying severe storms knocked out power to tens of thousands of Wisconsinites Wednesday night.

Wind gusts of 50 miles per hour or more are expected in southern Wisconsin late Wednesday and early Thursday. Those gusts can make driving tough and can even cause large vehicles like trucks to tip over, WisDOT warned.

Edward Witkiewicz, the executive director of WisDOT’s DeForest post, said drivers should avoid traveling in treacherous weather if they can.

When strong winds and other severe weather hazards are occurring, the department recommends:

  • Knowing weather conditions before getting on the road;
  • Watching for objects like tree branches and other debris, which can be blown onto the roadway;
  • Staying a safe distance away from the vehicle in front of you to give time to anticipate gusts and debris or avoid a crash;
  • Keeping your seatbelt on and phone off;
  • Keeping a firm grip on the steering wheel;
  • Slowing down if you feel yourself losing control; and
  • Being extra cautious around trucks. Empty trailers or light loads are especially vulnerable to being pushed out of a lane.

Wind gusts can be stronger in open areas like bridges and overpasses. If the wind feels too strong to drive safely, pull over and stay put until the wind dies down, the agency recommends.

Flying debris or down trees can also make driving treacherous.

“Let’s say someone’s garbage can or a construction barrel blows out in front of you. All you’re going to see is just that item out of the corner of your eye coming into the roadway and it causes you to break suddenly, other vehicles to break suddenly where you could swerve and take evasive action,” Witkiewicz said.

Drivers can monitor Wisconsin road conditions on WisDOT’s website here.