WILLMAR – Heavy wet snow and strong winds are making travel challenging in west central Minnesota where crews from the Minnesota Department of Transportation are still on their routes and attempting to keep state highways open for travelers.
If winds hit the predicted 40 mph tonight MnDOT plows will be pulled and highways closed, said Denny Marty, maintenance supervisor for the District 8 MnDOT headquarters in Willmar.
The Kandiyohi County Highway Department pulled their plows off the roads around 12:30 p.m. today.
Roads are in hazardous or difficult driving condition in much of west central Minnesota, according to MnDOT maps.
A blizzard warning has been issued for most of western Minnesota from 9 p.m. tonight through 6 p.m. Monday.
Numerous vehicles were in ditches early today. A pickup on U.S. Highway 12 near Kerkhoven ripped through a metal guardrail and ended up at the end of long steep embankment this morning as Rick Riegstad, a snow plow driver from MnDOT, was making another swing on his route from Willmar.
No one was injured in that incident and there were no initial reports of injuries in other incidents where cars slid into ditches. Around 1 p.m. MnDOT was working with ambulance crews to get roads plowed for an emergency run to Paynesville.
Aided with new technology that provides snow plow drivers with air and pavement temperatures, wind direction and speed, precipitation, weather conditions and forecast data MnDOT has been able to “fine tune” applications of salt and sand to increase safety for travlers.
The West Central Tribune road along on a MnDOT snow plow Sunday morning to get a first-hand look at how the equipment works.
Stay updated on weather conditions on Wctrib.com and read the complete story Monday in the West Central Tribune.