Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

News Release

Dec. 17, 2013

Orange barrels on a highway

Blowing snow and ice create dangerous driving conditions across northwest Minnesota


BEMIDJI, Minn. – (11:30 a.m.) The Minnesota Department of Transportation warns motorists for slippery conditions and black ice, an invisible hazard that catches drivers off-guard and causes crashes.

“It may not seem so in these clear conditions, but it makes for dangerous driving because the ice catches motorists off guard,” said Curt Larson, maintenance superintendent. “The sun heats the pavement and snow on the surface begins to melt. Blowing snow then catches on that melted area and quickly freezes.”

Black ice creates the appearance of a wet surface, but it is actually a thin, clear layer of ice on roads and bridges. Black ice forms when melting snow refreezes or when rain, drizzle, mist or fog freezes. It is most common at night and very early morning when it is dark and temperatures are lowest.

Black ice often forms in tunnels and other shaded areas, on overpasses and bridges and near lakes and rivers. The hazard can also form when snow temporarily melts from auto exhaust emissions or tire heat as well as from moisture vapors given off by industries located close to the highway.

Motorists should remember to:

  • Turn off cruise control
  • Slow down on bridges, overpasses and tunnels and on all roads in the early morning when the air temperature rises faster than the pavement temperature.
  • Use a safe speed for winter driving conditions, regardless of the posted speed limit.
  • Keep a safe stopping distance from the vehicle in front of you.
  • Keep both hands on the steering wheel, eyes on the road and attention on your driving.


For additional tips on safe winter driving, go to www.mndot.gov/workzone.

For updated information on road conditions, visit www.511mn.org or call 511.



Pay Attention Slow Down in Workzones