Wind gusts and blowing snow could create hazardous driving conditions in southwest Minnesota
WILLMAR, Minn. (4:00 p.m.) – The Minnesota Department of Transportation advises travelers that strong winds and blowing snow could create poor visibility and hazardous driving conditions through the remainder of the week in southwest Minnesota. According to the National Weather Service, accumulated snow could set the stage for blizzard conditions when northwest winds increase on Thursday.
They advise that below zero temperatures and wind gusts of 30-40 mph will create extremely dangerous wind chills, and that conditions could be life-threatening if travelers were to become stranded.
Travelers should consider changing travel plans until the blizzard warning is no longer in effect. If travel is necessary, monitor the National Weather Service forecasts for the latest information and 511mn.org to see road conditions, weather alerts and travel advisories. If No Travel Advisories are issued or roads are closed, they will be posted on 511mn.org.
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.
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, especially in extreme temperatures.
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. Be patient and remember snowplows are working to improve road conditions for your trip.