Police warn of dangerous driving conditions

New 6:50 p.m. Saturday:  Amtrak has made changes to some of its routes Monday due to weather.  Details here.

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NEW 1:40 p.m. Saturday:  The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District reports that due to blowing and drifting snow, buses are unable to enter Parkview Manor in Savoy on the 100 Yellow. Passengers are encouraged to board at Winfield Village or The Place at 217.

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With numerous accidents reported in East Central Illinois on Saturday, and extreme cold forecast for the next couple of days, authorities are urging extra caution if you have to drive.

State police on Saturday had numerous reports of traffic accidents, with drifting snow and patches of black ice on roads including interstates.

Early Saturday afternoon, state police in Pesotum said roads throughout the district had areas where whiteout conditions exist due to snow blowing across roads. They urged drivers to slow down when they approach an area where snow is blowing across the road, "as visibility is virtually nonexistent once inside the blowing snow." District 10 includes the counties of Champaign, Douglas, Coles, Vermilion, Edgar, Moultrie, Piatt, Shelby, and Macon.

And subzero temperatures are forecast for Monday and Tuesday.

The state police district based in Ashkum said Interstate 57 was experiencing drifting and blowing snow Saturday, as well as patches of black ice, throughout Kankakee, Iroquois and Ford counties.

Several crashes were reported in Champaign County, and the Ashkum district had reports of 17 vehicles in the ditch along I-57 in Ford, Iroquois and Kankakee counties.

Secondary roads also had drifting and blowing snow as well as patches of black ice in areas. Visibility on all roads was limited due to the blowing snow.

State police asked drivers to monitor changing weather conditions, limit travel and allow plenty of time. Drivers are also encouraged to put extra water, food, and warm clothing in their vehicles.

Meanwhile, the Champaign County Highway Department said it will not be salting roads this weekend and early next week, because of the projected wind and temperatures.

"Salting won't help the situation and could make things worse," said Rick Atterberry of the Champaign County Emergency Management Agency.

County highway crews will only be plowing under these conditions, Atterberry said. "Curves and bridge areas are still hazardous due to ice. Snow that falls Saturday will likely be blowing and visibility will be reduced. Conditions on Sunday afternoon will be difficult even though the sun may be out. Any snow melt will later freeze and ice up in the afternoon. With the forecast winds, Sunday afternoon and evening travel will be hazardous."

You can check road conditions at the state Transportation Department's website: gettingaroundillinois.com.

Here's the forecast through Tuesday from the National Weather Service:

Saturday: Snow after midnight. Low around 3. Wind chill values between minus 3 and minus 8. West northwest wind at 7 to 16 mph becoming south southeast after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 24 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90 percent. New snow accumulation of less than 1 inch possible.

Sunday: Snow likely, mainly before noon. Cloudy, with a high near 34. Wind chill values between minus 3 and 7. Breezy, with a south southeast wind at 16 to 21 mph becoming west in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 31 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent. New snow accumulation of less than a half-inch possible.

Sunday night: Areas of blowing snow and a chance of flurries before midnight, then areas of blowing snow after midnight. Mostly cloudy, with a low around minus 2. Wind chill values between minus 7 and minus 17. Blustery, with a west northwest wind 16 to 24 mph, with gusts as high as 37 mph.

Monday: Areas of blowing snow. Mostly sunny and cold, with a high near minus 1. Blustery, with a west northwest wind 16 to 22 mph, with gusts as high as 33 mph.

Monday night: Partly cloudy, with a low around minus 14.

Tuesday: Mostly sunny and cold, with a high near 3.

Tuesday night: Partly cloudy, with a low around minus 6.

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