Prepare for winter travel impacts Friday in southwest Minnesota
WILLMAR, Minn. – MnDOT staff are preparing for heavy snow forecast tomorrow for much of southwest Minnesota. Travel impacts are possible throughout the day Friday according to the National Weather Service, which has issued a winter storm warning across the southern part of the state. Some locations are expected to receive snowfall rates of 1-2 inches per hour. Travelers are encouraged to check weather conditions before heading out, allow extra time, and drive according to current road conditions.
View winter road conditions online
View winter road conditions from plow cameras 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. These are fixed cameras at more than 100 locations across the state that show live rotating photos. While the RWIS cameras show a small area of the road, the plow cameras show real-time road conditions as snowplows plow their routes.
Stay alert for snowplows
Stay alert for snowplows, which turn or exit frequently and may travel over centerlines or partially into traffic to further improve road conditions. The average snowplow route in southwest Minnesota is sixty miles, roundtrip. 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 drivers to stay at least ten car lengths behind a plow.
Sign up for travel alerts
Travelers can sign up for text or email messages for state highway advisories. The counties included in travel alerts for Southwest Minnesota are Chippewa, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, McLeod, Meeker, Murray, Pipestone, Redwood, Renville, and Yellow Medicine. Notifications by text/email will be for road situations that will help travelers make informed travel decisions, including no travel advisories and road closures due to weather-related conditions.
Sign up for email or text travel alerts at MnDOT's website by clicking “Email and text updates” under the “Connect with us” heading. Choose to receive messages via email or text message. Then, choose the “Southwest MN Travel Alerts” under the “Travel Alerts” category.
Additional safe winter driving recommendations
- Don’t drive distracted.
- Slow down to a safe speed for current conditions.
- Turn your headlights on (not simply the automatic setting) and wear your seat belt.
- Turn off the cruise control.
- Be patient and remember snowplows are working to improve road conditions for your trip.
Find more tips on safe winter driving at mndot.gov/workzone/winter.html.