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MnDOT urges drivers to travel with caution as winter storm approaches

Updated: November 27, 2019 09:08 AM

UPDATE:

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Early crash numbers from the Minnesota State Patrol show that 81 crashes were recorded statewide between 4 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. Seven of those crashes had injuries, 46 vehicles spun out and three semi trucks had jackknifed.


Snow hit southwest Minnesota first as much of the state is buckling down for the severe winter weather that is expected to have major impacts on travel.

The roads in and out of the Minnesota River Valley were snow packed early into the evening, but the Minnesota Department of Transportation has been keeping the roads plowed and clear in the New Ulm area.

Pam Schneider told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS she decided to travel a little earlier than first planned to get out in front of the bad weather to make her Thanksgiving destination on time.

"I live in Hastings, but grew up here in New Ulm, and I just headed out Tuesday," said Schneider.  "The roads were just fine, and now that things have picked up I am glad I left early."

All of the New Ulm downtown businesses were open Tuesday night and, despite the increasing snow each hour, the business district remained busy.

Lisa Koopmann told KSTP she and her family were not overly concerned about the storm because they were staying home for the holiday and had everything ready.

"We are not running around trying to get things done and we're just taking it easy," said Koopmann.  "We're going to get something to eat, pick our daughter up from a movie and go home and hunker down for Thanksgiving."


The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), Department of Public Safety (DPS) and National Weather Service (NWS) gathered in St. Paul for a news conference on Tuesday to discuss the upcoming winter storm.

Snow and icy road conditions are expected for portions of central and southern Minnesota beginning Tuesday night, which could potentially affect holiday travel. Significant snow and wind is expected to blow through the region.

The NWS has issued a winter storm warning for much of central, northeast and southern Minnesota and a winter weather advisory for several additional Minnesota counties.

KSTP meteorologists say at least 6 inches of snow is expected to begin falling Tuesday afternoon south of Interstate 94, followed by strong winds on Wednesday.

MnDOT encourages drivers to check 511mn.org before they travel to see current road conditions and view highway and snowplow cameras along their route. According to a news release, hundreds of snowplow operators will be working during the winter storm. Drivers are asked to stay back at least 10 car lengths and use extra caution when driving near snowplows.

Preparations underway ahead of snowstorm

"We want motorists to be prepared for the changing road conditions to be sure their drive is safe and uneventful this holiday weekend," acting MnDOT state maintenance engineer Jed Falgren said. "When driving near snowplows, motorists should remember to be patient and give our operators room to work so that they can improve road conditions."

State officials say if travel is necessary, the DPS 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 the vehicle. If authorities issue for "no travel," drivers are advised to heed those orders.

Drivers are also advised to remember the following when traveling through winter conditions:

  • Avoid distractions 
  • 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 seatbelt.
  • Turn off the cruise control.
  • Be patient and remember snowplows are working to improve road conditions for your trip.

You can find real time driving conditons at the link here

KSTP will update this story throughout the day with updated weather news and snow emergencies. Be sure to refresh your page for the latest information. To see the news conference held Tuesday morning, click the Facebook stream down below.

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