Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

News Release

Jan. 12, 2017

Icy roads make hazardous driving conditions in Northeastern Minnesota

Most highways will not improve until air temperatures warm-up early next week

DULUTH, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Transportation is reporting that ice covered and compacted snow is causing slippery highways in Northeastern Minnesota. The Minnesota State Patrol has reported many crashes since Tuesday, when the last wet, wintery mix coated highways. Subsequent freezing temperatures have created extremely slippery conditions. High winds over the past two days have caused blow ice to form in many areas.

MnDOT advises motorists to slow down and drive with extreme caution. Some highways may not see improvement until early next week when temperatures are expected to rise toward the freezing mark.

“This has been a very challenging winter so far,” said Perry Collins, MnDOT District 1 Operations engineer. Our snow plows were deployed 24 of 31 days in December and the three major storms we’ve experienced this season have all resulted in compaction on some if not many roadways – and not limited to our District. This is something that we can usually prevent or only occurs in isolated areas.”

All three storms began with rain or heavy, wet snow. As vehicles drove over the snow, it compacted and then froze. If the weather remains cold, limiting the effectiveness of salt, the only way to remove the compaction is with graders or with ice breakers, which is a very slow process.

“MnDOT has been working continuously to clear the highways and we won’t stop until we’re done,” said Collins. 

MnDOT snowplow operators are doing their part to make highways safe. Motorists should remember to:

  • Drive slowly on bridges, overpasses and tunnels.
  • Use a safe speed for winter driving conditions, regardless of the posted speed limit.
  • Keep a safe stopping distance from the vehicle in front of them.
  • Keep both hands on the steering wheel and eyes on the road, and stay alert.

For additional tips on safe winter driving, go to www.mndot.gov/workzone/winter.html.

For updated road condition information, call 511 or visit www.511mn.org.