The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) reminds motorists to plan ahead and practice good winter driving habits as strong winds and blowing snow are predicted to move into the area late Wednesday evening.
The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for west central Minnesota, including Lac qui Parle, Yellow Medicine and Chippewa counties.
A winter weather advisory has been issued for Kandiyohi, Meeker, Renville, McLeod, Lincoln, Lyon, Redwood, Pipestone and Murray counties.
According to the National Weather Service, wind gusts up to 40 miles per hour with blowing and drifting snow are possible, including whiteout conditions, especially in open areas.
While MnDOT staff prepare for snow and ice control, motorists can also prepare for winter weather driving by following these steps:
• Check road conditions before your trip. For real-time traffic and travel information in Minnesota, visit www.511mn.org.
• Allow extra time to get to your destination.
• Turn your headlights on (not simply the automatic setting) and wear your seatbelt.
• Be patient behind the wheel and remember snowplows are working to improve road conditions.
• Stay back at least 10 car lengths behind a plow, far from the snow cloud.
• Stay alert for snowplows that turn or exit frequently and often with little warning. Anticipate that plows may also travel over centerlines or partially into traffic to further improve road conditions.
• Slow down to a safe speed for current conditions.
• No texting, e-mailing, or Internet while driving – it’s the law.
The average snow plow route in District 8 (southwest and west central Minn.) is 60 miles, round-trip. Some routes are considerably longer. In good conditions it can take two and one-half hours to clear a route. In difficult conditions it can take up to four hours. In general, plows are out from 3 a.m. to 10 p.m., longer if conditions require. Be aware that it takes time to get roads back to good driving conditions.
A plow’s sole purpose is to make the roads as clear and passable as quickly as possible. Plow operators have much to monitor and control while on duty, and their ability to see behind them is limited. They travel more slowly than the posted speeds as it is more effective for clearing snow. Their vision can be hampered by the snow clouds they create while plowing, so MnDOT urges motorists to reduce all distractions and concentrate on driving.
For additional tips on safe winter driving, visit www.mndot.gov.
Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Transportation