Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

News Release

December 29, 2017

Snowplows work hard to clear roads while temperatures continue to drop

WILLMAR, Minn. – Minnesota Department of Transportation snowplow operators are working to clear roads in southwest Minnesota as temperatures continue to drop.  Currently, roads are partially covered with snow.  Some areas are experiencing blowing snow.  MnDOT encourages motorists to turn their headlights on while it is snowing.

During or after the snowfall, vehicle tires pack down snow on the road.  If the temps are below freezing, the compacted snow freezes and forms a layer of ice.  As more snow falls, the cycle continues and the layer of ice thickens.  Trucks continue to plow, but the blade is less effective on compacted snow. 

The National Weather Service has issued a Wind Chill Warning as temperatures are expected to fall and northwest winds increase this evening.  Wind chill values will drop into the 25 to 45 degree below zero range.

Salt melts snow and ice when temperatures are below freezing, but it loses its effectiveness as temperatures drop.  Chemicals do not work well when temps fall below 15 degrees.  Sand increases traction and is used in extreme cold when salt is less effective.  Salt is used primarily at intersection and on ramps.

The public can view winter road conditions from plow cameras available through the 511mn.org website.  Please note that not all plows have cameras.  Road conditions on major highways can also be viewed through the Road Weather Information System (RWIS), which is also part of 511. 

Motorists should remember to:

  • Check road conditions at www.511mn.org or call 511; it takes time to get roads back to good driving conditions.
  • Be patient and remember snowplows are working to improve road conditions for your trip.
  • Stay back at least 10 car lengths behind the plow, far from the snow cloud.
  • Stay alert for snowplows that turn or exit frequently and often with little warning. Plows may also travel over centerlines or partially into traffic to further improve road conditions.
  • Slow down to a safe speed for current conditions. Snowplows typically move at slower speeds.

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

For real-time traffic and travel information in Minnesota, visit www.511mn.org or get the free smartphone app at Google Play or the App Store.