ROCHESTER, Minn. – Motorists in southeast Minnesota may encounter challenging winter driving conditions beginning Saturday morning 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 southeast and southwest Minnesota. This watch includes Olmsted, Houston, Winona, Wabasha, Fillmore, Goodhue, Dodge, Steele, Mower, Freeborn and Rice counties in southeast Minnesota. MnDOT snowplow crews are on alert and are prepared for the potential of snow and ice.
“We are tracking the weather information as it develops and we will be ready across southeast Minnesota,” said Drew Fischbach, maintenance superintendent in MnDOT District 6 East. “We encourage motorists to prepare for winter weather conditions to be sure their drive is safe and uneventful.”
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 freezing rain that could lead to ice accumulation, up to 6 inches of snow and winds gusting to 35 mph. The current timing of the storm is expected Saturday morning through Sunday 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.
MnDOT snowplow operators will do their part to make highways safe and 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.