Frigid temps limit effectiveness of salt, brine on highways; MnDOT urges caution

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From snow to extreme cold, Minnesota roads are in rough shape.

While Minnesota Department of Transportation plows have cleared most of the snow off the highways, the freezing temperatures mean dangerous conditions remain.

“Fifteen degrees is the temperature when we start to lose the effectiveness of salt, of brine,” said Anne Meyer with MnDOT.

Meyer added that slick spots can pop up for a variety of reasons — one even being MnDOT crews using that brine mix. Because it’s a wet mixture, the road can refreeze when it gets this cold, making their work counterproductive.

“It’s helpful for drivers to know that that salt and brine isn’t always the answer to every situation,” Meyer said.

This is where drivers come into play, Meyer said. Taking it easy on the road, not driving too fast and keeping distance can help reduce the chance of a crash.

Not everyone has been taking that advice.

Hundreds of crashes have occurred this week on Minnesota roads.

According to the Minnesota State Patrol from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, there were 212 crashes and a resulting 21 injuries from those crashes. The State Patrol says another 54 vehicles spun off the road during that time.

MnDOT also suggests planning and mapping out your traveling before leaving. You can check live updates of road conditions and crashes here.

If you have a long distance to drive, MnDOT suggests having a winter survival kit in your vehicle, comprised of items like the following:

  • Boots, jackets, gloves
  • Blankets
  • Cell phone charger
  • Flashlight & spare batteries
  • Bottled water & snacks
  • Booster cables
  • Basic tools
  • Sand or cat litter (to help get unstuck from snow)
  • Red bandana (to help flag down other drivers)
  • Pencil and paper