Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

News Release

June 5, 2013

Orange barrels on a highway

Finally, books closed on the statewide 2012-13 winter season

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The 2012-13 winter season was a memorable one—particularly because of its stark contrast from the previous mild season.

“This winter started out quiet. Maintenance crews capitalized on their summer work late into the fall,” said Steve Lund, MnDOT state maintenance engineer. “But winter weather during the spring months quickly made up for that.”

The 2012-13 season snowfall, reported at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, was 67.7 inches compared to 22.3 inches in 2011-12. Statewide salt usage was 304,555 tons. This is almost double last season’s usage of 154,072 tons and 47 percent above the 5-year average. In total, labor, equipment and materials cost the state $90.5 million this season, in contrast to the $45.9 million spent last season.

“Last year’s warm winter temperatures mixed with below average snowfall led to an unusual, but opportunistic 2011-12 snow and ice season for MnDOT,” said Lund. “The department caught up on repairs to cable median barriers, guardrails, culverts and fences and jump-started crack sealing and pothole patching. We were also able to purchase some new plows, and other critical equipment needs.”

“The good news is the easy winter of 2011-12 was the first in the state’s 2-year funding cycle, so we were able to leverage second-year funding for what Mother Nature threw at us during the 2012-13 season,” he said.


  • Winter began to pick up in December for northern Minnesota. The region dealt with the heaviest slush they’d ever seen. Northwestern Minnesota recorded snow and ice events on 20 of the 31 days in the month. No events were major, but included many small nuisances.
  • Several weekend storms throughout January, February and March caused Interstate 94 in west central Minnesota to close five times for visibility and crashes.
  • MnDOT districts in the western part of the state ran out of salt late in the season, and districts in the eastern part sent salt their way.   
  • Many crews across the state thought they were done plowing for the season in April. They were forced to put the plows back on the trucks and then take them off again a few times this spring.

Lund said winter service is a priority for the department.

“It’s important that we spend the necessary amount to deliver services to the people of Minnesota, even if a severe winter means impacts to our summer work,” Lund said. “Citizens expect to be able to carry out normal activities though most weather events and to have quick and effective clearance shortly after an event has passed.”

MnDOT delivers snowplowing services on some 12,000 miles of state highway in eight districts that cover all regions of Minnesota. To meet performance targets for achieving bare pavement, the agency uses techniques to inhibit ice formation and improve the road surface for plowing. In addition, technology like Automatic Vehicle Locating, a global positioning-based system, allows MnDOT districts to track resources, including chemical and material usage, as well as monitor truck deployment.

For more information on maintaining Minnesota’s state highway system, visit www.mndot.gov/maintenance/.


Pay Attention Slow Down in Workzones