MnDOT, DPS and NWS urge motorists to prepare for winter weather
ST. PAUL, Minn. – Motorists should prepare for snow-covered and icy road conditions in portions of Minnesota beginning Tuesday afternoon as a winter storm is expected to bring significant snow and wind to the region through Wednesday morning, which means Thanksgiving travel could be difficult.
The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for much of central, northeast and southern Minnesota and a Winter Weather Advisory for several additional Minnesota counties. Forecasts suggest snowfall amounts could reach 6 to 9 inches in some areas of the state beginning Tuesday afternoon, and wind gusts of 35 to 40 miles per hour causing blowing snow with whiteout conditions could follow.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation encourages motorists to check 511mn.org before they travel to see current road conditions and view highway and snowplow cameras along their route. Hundreds of snowplow operators will be working during the winter storm, so motorists should remember to stay back at least 10 car lengths and use extra caution when driving near snowplows.
“We want motorists to be prepared for the changing road conditions to be sure their drive is safe and uneventful this holiday weekend,” said Jed Falgren, acting MnDOT state maintenance engineer. “When driving near snowplows, motorists should remember to be patient and give our operators room to work so that they can improve road conditions.”
If travel is necessary, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety suggests drivers and everyone in the vehicle is dressed for the cold weather and keep blankets, water, food, phone chargers and an emergency kit in your vehicle. If authorities issue advisories for no travel, drivers should heed those orders.
Move over for emergency vehicles
Working on the side of the road can be challenging for any emergency responder but responding during inclement weather can be even more challenging.
- When traveling on a road with two or more lanes, drivers must keep one full lane away from stopped emergency vehicles with flashing lights activated — ambulance, fire, law enforcement, maintenance, construction vehicles and tow trucks.
- Reduce speed if unable to safely move over a lane.
- Failing to take these actions endangers personnel who provide critical and life-saving services. Fines can exceed $100.
“Please help keep us safe on the road by always putting the distractions away, focusing on the road and always moving over for emergency vehicles,” said Lt. Gordon Shank, Minnesota State Patrol. “Remember, this will not only keep emergency responders safe on the road, but it’ll keep you and your loved ones safe as well.”
Motorists should also remember to:
- Don’t drive distracted.
- Stay alert for snowplows, which turn or exit frequently and often with little warning. They also may travel over centerlines or partially in traffic to further improve road conditions.
- Stay back at least 10 car lengths behind the plow. Don’t drive into a snow cloud.
- Slow down to a safe speed for current conditions.
- Turn on your headlights and wear your seat belt.
- Turn off the cruise control.
- Be patient and remember snowplows are working to improve road conditions for your trip.