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Winter weather adds to driving hazards

The roller coaster that is Alabama’s weather took another dive Friday as temperatures plummeted from the highs of earlier in the week.

With the return of winter temperatures, rain began falling in Butler County.

According to WAKA-TV Meteorologist David Baxley, the threat of freezing precipitation was due to a two-prong weather system.

&uot;There were two parts of this current storm system. Both are working in tandem,&uot; he said.

&uot;First, a strong high pressure system was draining cold air down the eastern side of the Appalachians, into eastern Alabama.

"Secondly, an upper level low pressure system was skirting in from the west, drawing up moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.&uot;

He went on to say the weather pattern wasn’t expected to be much of a problem past Saturday morning, with temperatures rising to the 40s.

The threat of a winter storm did prompt the Alabama Department of Public Safety to issue a warning for the weekend, especially for those traveling to north Alabama about hazards associated with the freezing temperatures.

Motorists were being urged to drive with extreme caution with the possibility of roadways and bridges freezing over.

Baxley said the biggest chance of any freezing rain would likely be past by Saturday afternoon, but that local residents should expect rain through the weekend.

&uot;For anyone living in Butler, Crenshaw, and Lowndes counties, expect a cold rain, and there may be some sleet thrown in, but this will not be a big deal,&uot; he said.

&uot;As always, when the roadways get wet, there can be some slick spots and ponding on the roadways, so motorists should just slow down.&uot;

DPS also offered the following tips for traveling in winter weather:

n Keep your vehicle in good operating condition. Check antifreeze levels and use windshield washer solution suitable for freezing weather conditions. Keep gas tanks at least half full.

n Remember that weather and roadway conditions can quickly change. Adapt speeds to existing roadway conditions, and be alert to changing weather and the possibility of icy, slippery roads.

n During inclement weather turn on headlights and windshield wipers and keep a safe distance between your vehicle and other motorists.

n Avoid travel, if possible, when icy or other extremely hazardous driving conditions develop in your area.

n Keep blankets, a first aid kit and other emergency supplies in your vehicle.

Motorists are encouraged to monitor local news for information on weather conditions and travel advisories and to contact trooper posts only to report traffic crashes or other emergencies. Motorists with cell phones may dial *HP (*47) toll-free to report roadway emergencies to a state trooper post.