WILLMAR, Minn. – (2:00 p.m.) The Minnesota Department of Transportation anticipates travel will be extremely difficult Friday night through Saturday, as falling snow and high winds are forecasted to create blizzard conditions.
The National Weather Service forecast includes a Blizzard Warning in effect for Friday evening into Saturday evening for southwest and west central Minnesota, with strong winds expected into Sunday.
District 8 (southwest and west central Minnesota) is fully staffed and will be out in full force. Crews are out tonight, Friday, April 13, until 11 p.m. with crews starting on Saturday, April 14, at around 4 a.m.
MnDOT anticipates that there will be no travel advised during this storm and that there is a strong potential for road closures based on the forecasted conditions.
MnDOT reminds motorists that the average snow plow route in District 8 (southwest and west central MN) is sixty miles, round-trip. Some routes are considerably longer. In difficult conditions it can take up to four hours for a snow plow operator to plow a route. With limited visibility it can take considerably longer.
Plow operators have much to monitor and control while on duty, and their ability to see behind them is limited. Their vision can be hampered by the snow clouds they create while plowing. Please stay back and don’t crowd the plow.
The public can view winter road conditions from plow cameras available 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 91 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.
Motorists should remember to:
· Check road conditions at www.511mn.org or call 511; it takes time to get roads back to good driving conditions.
· Be patient and remember snowplows are working to improve road conditions for your trip.
· Stay back at least 10 car lengths behind the plow, far from the snow cloud.
· Stay alert for snowplows that turn or exit frequently and often with little warning. Plows may also travel over centerlines or partially into traffic to further improve road conditions.
· Slow down to a safe speed for current conditions. Snowplows typically move at slower speeds.
For additional tips on safe winter driving, go to www.mndot.gov/workzone/winter.html.
For real-time traffic and travel information in Minnesota, visit www.511mn.org or get the free smartphone app at Google Play or the App Store.