Motorists in southeast Minnesota may encounter challenging winter driving conditions in portions of the region Sunday evening and into Monday morning’s commute, based on the current weather forecasts that include a Winter Storm Watch, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch for portions of southeast, central, east central and southwest Minnesota. This watch includes Goodhue and Rice counties, but could also affect other southeast Minnesota counties as the storm develops. MnDOT snowplow crews are on alert and are prepared for the potential of snow and ice. “We continue to track the weather information as the forecasts sharpen and we will be ready across southeast Minnesota,” said Tim Zierden, maintenance superintendent in MnDOT District 6 East.
A Winter Storm Watch means there is potential for significant snow, sleet or ice accumulations that may impact travel. According to the National Weather Service, the areas in the watch have the highest chance of exceeding 6 inches of snow, winds of 25-30 mph and a wintry mix is possible including minor ice accumulation. The current timing of the storm is expected Sunday evening through Monday afternoon.
In southeast Minnesota there are 102 snowplows that work the state highways in the 11-county MnDOT District 6. During winter weather such as what’s forecasted, MnDOT is likely to deploy two shifts of drivers in the snowplows, who can keep the snowplowing effort going around the clock by working 12-hour shifts. In southeast Minnesota, MnDOT is in charge of plowing 3,774 lane miles with the average route for drivers being 31 miles.
“Just as we prepare for winter weather, motorists can also prepare to be sure that their drive is safe and uneventful,” said Don Nosbisch, maintenance superintendent in MnDOT District 6 West. MnDOT snowplow operators will do their part to make highways safe. Nosbisch and Zierden say motorists should remember to:
- • 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.
- • Don’t drive distracted.
- • Check MnDOT’s road conditions map at www.511mn.org
For additional tips on safe winter driving, go to http://www.dot.state.mn.us/workzone/winter.html .