ST. PAUL — As families traveling for Thanksgiving brace for heavy snow across Minnesota, state public safety and transportation officials are asking drivers to monitor severe weather and to plan ahead.
The words of warning came after National Weather Service meteorologists early Tuesday, Nov. 26, posted winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories for much of the state. Carlton and South St. Louis Counties were also flagged for a lakeshore flood warning.
Six to 12 inches of snow is expected to fall across much of Minnesota and meteorologists expect strong wind gusts could reach 30 to 40 miles per hour as part of the storm. The conditions likely will cause limited visibility and spur whiteouts on Minnesota roadways, NWS officials said.
Warnings and advisories are set to lift Wednesday, with additional precipitation possible later in the week.
And before many planned to get on the road for the Thanksgiving holiday, Minnesota Department of Transportation officials said drivers should consider delaying travel and planning ahead for potential delays or accidents.
“It’s not a bad idea to give yourself extra time to get where you’re going, or just wait it out,” Lt. Gordon Shank with the Minnesota State Patrol, said. “Wait 'til it’s cleared up, wait until MnDOT can get through there and do the great job they do of clearing the roads, just give yourself extra time.”
Meanwhile, 800 snowplows are set to take to the roadways Tuesday as the snow begins to fall. And acting MnDOT State Maintenance Engineer Jed Falgren asked that drivers give operators space to do their work.
"This obviously is our first big hitter for the season. It’s not something that’s new to us, we're just going to put our boots back on, get our plows ready to go and go out and hit the road," Falgren said. “You just need to give us our room, we don’t expect a lot."
The department advises that drivers stay 10 car lengths behind snowplows and officials said motorists should avoid crowding other drivers as well. State law requires that motorists keep one lane away from emergency service providers where possible and slow down while passing if they can't move over. Fines for failing to move over or slow down can exceed $100.
Another winter storm system is likely to pass through the state ahead of the weekend, long-range forecasts show. And emergency management officials said drivers should call family members or friends before they travel and consider leaving after snow clears.
“It’s better to be safe and make it there late than not make it there at all,” Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management Deputy Director Kevin Reed said.
- Keep track of weather conditions via the National Weather Service and road conditions by calling 511 or through 511mn.org.
- Consider delaying or changing travel plans if areas show whiteout conditions, several crashes reported.
- Slow down and don't use cruise control.
- Stay 10 car lengths behind snowplows and put space between your car and others.
- If you crash, call 911 and remain in your vehicle with your seatbelt on.
- Pack an emergency kit before you get on the road.