MnDOT, State Patrol warn of driving on closed roads, urge caution on open ones

The remnants of a severe winter storm continued to cause closed and icy roads Saturday afternoon. Motorists were urged to check, use caution, slow down and increase following distances.

The view at 8:45 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022, from a Minnesota Department of Transportation snowplow working on U.S. Highway 71 between Olivia and the junction with state Highway 7.
The view at 8:45 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022, from a Minnesota Department of Transportation snowplow working on U.S. Highway 71 between Olivia and the junction with state Highway 7.
Contributed / Minnesota Department of Transportation
We are part of The Trust Project.

WILLMAR — Many roads in southwestern Minnesota opened Saturday morning, but some remained closed.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation continued to ask motorists to continue to avoid roads marked as closed or No Travel Advised.

The Minnesota State Patrol said in a Facebook post at noon that roads around the state are covered in black ice and visibility is limited by blowing snow on roads that are considered to be open.

Conditions vary throughout the area, according to a MnDOT news release, and drivers are asked to check before heading out on the roads.

Temperatures will rebound nicely for the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest for our first weekend in February
This calendar was designed so that every day each year would fall on the same weekday.
StormTRACKER Meteorologist John Wheeler discusses a somewhat warmer winter weather pattern.
Weather Wednesday
All that is required is a subtle rising motion in the air or a subtle cooling of the air at cloud level.
Some people believe that wind chill is just hype and that only the temperature and wind speed should be reported.
After a generally quiet January for most of the region we'll see a surge of bitter cold temperatures returning this weekend.
Weather is always changing from one side of average to the other.
Weather Wednesday

A portion of a road may seem to be open but hazardous conditions exist somewhere on that road, whether it's blocked by drifts or stranded cars, according to the release. In some areas, stranded vehicles are delaying the work, as plows have to wait for the cars to be towed before clearing the road.


Those who drive down closed roads are likely to be stranded themselves and further complicate the operation to clear the roads, the release said.

It is illegal to travel on a closed road and if travelers require rescuing, they are liable for all related rescue costs.

"Plows are doing the best they can and we're getting blowers out to sites that are in really tough shape," MnDOT said in a Facebook post Saturday morning.

The post concluded with, "Please show grace to one another, and to the first responders and plow operators working in these conditions."

In early afternoon, roads in the Willmar area were either still closed or posted with the No Travel Advised warning.

Roads in the Olivia, Redwood Falls and Marshall areas were also still closed.

The Minnesota State Patrol reported at noon Saturday that the state had 180 crashes and 97 vehicles off the road in just four hours Saturday morning.

"None of these crashes have been fatal but 17 people have been injured," the Patrol said in its post on Facebook. "Not a great way to spend a holiday."


The advice from the State Patrol — slow down, increase your following distance, buckle up and give yourself extra time.

As a public service, we’ve opened this article to everyone regardless of subscription status. If this coverage is important to you, please consider supporting local journalism and subscribing here .

In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: or phone 320-214-4340
What To Read Next
Groups urging 'disco wall' at Lock and Dam 5 on Mississippi River to slow invasive carp before they can establish reproducing populations in Minnesota waters
Any resident or business in the state of Minnesota that does not have wired broadband internet service of at least 25 megabits per second downloading speed and 3 megabits per second for uploads is now eligible to apply for this program.
Area funerals scheduled through Feb. 10, 2023
The Tribune publishes Records as part of its obligation to inform readers about the business of public institutions and to serve as a keeper of the local historical record. All items are written by Tribune staff members based on information contained in public documents from the state court system and from law enforcement agencies. It is the Tribune’s policy that this column contain a complete record. Requests for items to be withheld will not be granted.