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The National Weather Service is forecasting the first major snowstorm of the season today, as a system advancing out of the Plains is expected to bring 2 to 4 inches to the Twin Cities by this evening.

Driving tips

The AAA Chicago Motor Club offers the following tips for motorists and pedestrians during snowy weather:

w Clear windows, mirrors and lights; keep windshield wipers and defrosters in good working order and fill washer reservoir with fluid.

w Temperatures at or just above 32 degrees cause a thin layer of water over ice, creating extremely slippery conditions.

w Open frozen door locks by carefully heating the end of a key with a match or lighter, or use a squirt of de-icer.

w Don't start car in a closed garage or idle the engine with windows closed.

w Slow down in bad weather.

w Ice forms first and is most slippery in shaded areas, bridges, overpasses and intersections.

w Increase your following distance. It takes longer to stop on ice.

w Steady pressure is better than pumping brakes.

w If you skid, ease off the accelerator and steer in the direction you want the car to go. Straighten as soon as the car begins to move that way.

School closings

w The following districts and schools ask families to check local radio and television stations to find out if buses are running late, school is closed or buses will return early:

Bloomington, Bloomington Catholic schools, Blue Ridge, Clinton, Clinton Christian Academy, Deer Creek-Mackinaw, Delavan, El Paso-Gridley, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley, Lincoln High School, Lincoln Elementary District 27, West Lincoln-Broadwell, Chester-East Lincoln, Zion Lutheran School, Mount Pulaski, Olympia, Paxton-Buckley-Loda, Ridgeview (Colfax), Streator Elementary, Tremont, Tri-Valley, Unit 5, Woodland (Streator), Eureka College, Heartland Community College (Lincoln campus), Illinois Wesleyan University, Illinois State University, Lincoln College at Normal, Lincoln College at Lincoln.

More about school closings

w Districts and schools with additional, specific information about weather closings are:

Blue Ridge: Call parent volunteers whose numbers are listed on the school closing information list. Do not call individual school buildings unless it is an emergency.

Central Catholic High School: Central Catholic closes if Bloomington or Normal high schools close due to weather.

Lexington: A broadcast voice mail system is used to contact every household in the district. It starts at 6 a.m. and reaches both faculty and parents.

Zion Lutheran School, Lincoln: Check Lincoln Daily News Web site at www.lincolndailynews.com.

Olympia: The superintendent also initiates a phone tree.

Ridgeview (Colfax): On the Web, search for www.cancellation.com and enter ZIP code 61728. An automatic "voice reach" system calls each child's household in the event of a school cancellation.

Tri-Valley (Downs): To receive e-mail weather notification, sign up at www.tri-valley.k12.il.us under the "community" heading.

Unit 5 (Normal): Call (309) 452-4476 if necessary.

Eureka College: Call (309) 467-3721 only if necessary.

Heartland Community College (Normal): Visit www.heartland.edu or call (309) 268-8000 only if necessary.

Heartland Community College (Lincoln): Call (309) 438-8371 if necessary.

Illinois Wesleyan University: Call (309) 556-3181 only if necessary.

Illinois State University: Call (309) 438-8371 only if necessary.

Lincoln College at Normal: Call (309) 452-0500 only if necessary.

SOURCES: www.autoclubgroup.com, Pantagraph archives,

Compiled by Julie Gerke

The Pantagraph/XXXXXX XXXXX

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