A line of trucks sit stalled as truckers prepare to chain up south of Ladd Canyon in this file photo. The season's first major winter storm is projected to hit the Treasure Valley beginning tonight. (Photo courtesy of the state Transportation Department).

ONTARIO – As a powerful winter storm readies to roll over the lower Treasure Valley, local emergency service agencies are urging motorists to use extreme caution.

“We strongly encourage motorists to reduce speed, wear their seatbelts and give themselves plenty of time,” said Oregon State Police Lt. Mark Duncan.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, the local area – including Vale and Ontario – was under a winter weather advisory from 11 p.m. tonight until 5 p.m. Wednesday.

 “The precipitation will be coming from the south and will be focused along the mountains,” said Korri Anderson, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Boise.

In Vale, Anderson said there could be up to an inch of snow. The heavy snowfall, said Anderson, will occur mostly in eastern Idaho in places like Fairfield, Hailey and Sun Valley.

“Not much in the Treasure Valley,” said Anderson.

Travel across eastern Oregon will be a challenge and isn’t advised, said Anderson.

“It’s mainly going to be wind driven, but if you are near those mountains, it is going to be pretty snowy,” said Anderson.

The state Transportation Department is already actively patrolling the interstate and prepared for snow, said spokesman Tom Strandberg.

Strandberg said transportation department crews can call on dozens of plows and graders stationed strategically across eastern Oregon to battle heavy snow fall.

Duncan said the state police office in Ontario is ready as well.

“OSP is monitoring the weather and we are anticipating about an inch overnight with accumulations of about an inch on the floor. And we are expecting icy conditions,” said Duncan.

The first significant snow of the winter usually causes unnecessary crashes, said Duncan.

“Motorists are overconfident and still driving as if it was summer,” said Duncan.

Strandberg and Duncan both recommended that drivers carry extra supplies – such as blankets, batteries and foot – in their vehicles.

“Make sure you have a full tank of gas, charged cell phones and that your car is in good condition to travel,” said Strandberg.

Duncan also urged motorists to avoid the “it-can’t-happen-to-me” attitude.

“Please don’t develop that,” said Duncan.

The storm will also impact southern Oregon and could drop as much as a foot of snow in the Cascade Mountains.

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