FIRST PERSON | WEST FRANKFORT, Ill. -- In a year of severe weather, including a drought that left the local area devastated, a winter storm has so far dumped six inches of snow with more still falling here in southern Illinois.
As of 8 a.m. local time, there was still a blizzard watch for the area until noon with snow in the forecast until at least 4 p.m. Authorities are advising everyone except for emergency workers to stay off of the roads until the storm passes.
The snow began falling locally a little after 10 p.m., though the winds, gusting up to 35mph, had begun in the early evening. The heaviest snow began to fall at 2 a.m. Visibility was so poor that venturing away from the house would leave you in a swirling haze of snow with winds inhibiting your ability to find your way back.
While visibility has improved considerably, the blowing snow alone makes for hazardous driving conditions. I live on a normally busy street and there are no signs anyone has attempted to venture out thus far.
There are currently no reports of power outages or downed limbs. The best course of action at this point is to stay inside and allow nature to take its course and then allow clean-up workers to do their jobs.
Local message boards have been speculating that the local area is in for a winter with far more snow than usual. The National Weather Service has projected that the winter will be colder than normal and that the area should be out of the drought before the farmers start spring planting. This doesn't bode well in an area that is 29 inches low on precipitation due to the drought but only averages eight inches of snow each winter!