Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

News Release

Dec. 15, 2016

Orange barrels on a highway

MnDOT encourages motorists to plan ahead for winter storm

WILLMAR, Minn. – District 8 (southwest MN) staff are busy preparing for a storm that is on track to cause major travel impacts.  The National Weather Service out of the Twin Cities has issued a Winter Storm Watch for much of southern and central MN, and west central WI (see attached map).  Light snow is predicted to move into the area Friday morning with the heaviest snow to fall mid-day Friday through Friday night. 

On Saturday, northwest winds of 20 to 30 mph will cause some blowing snow.  MnDOT is expecting that travel will remain difficult through Saturday morning.

MnDOT advises motorists to monitor the latest weather conditions and prepare to adjust travel plans if necessary.  MnDOT staff will be out working to make highways safe.  Motorists should remember to:

  • Check road conditions at www.511mn.org or call 511.  Please remember it takes time to get roads back to good driving conditions.
  • Be patient and remember snowplows are working to improve road conditions for your trip.
  • Stay back at least five car lengths behind the snowplow, far from the snow cloud.
  • Stay alert for snowplows that turn or exit frequently and often with little warning.
  • Slow down to a safe speed for current conditions.  Snowplows typically move at slower speeds.
  • Drive with your headlights on if it is snowing, regardless of it is day or night.
  • Don’t use cruise control when roadways are wet or slippery.

In addition to the tips above, MnDOT has added new features to the 511 traveler information system:

  • Personalize Your 511 – Motorists can enter up to 20 routes they travel to see where incidents, such as crashes or construction, are located. Users can also click on a specific incident to see a camera view. This is available on the full-featured and truckers’ pages.
  • Smart 511 – This is the same as Personalize Your 511, but for a smartphone. Motorists sign up online and then enter their phone number to receive information. 
  • Tell Me – Motorists receive hands-free and eyes-free audio notifications on their smartphones about traffic conditions. Users download and open the app before they start driving. The feature uses motorists’ GPS information.
  • Road Weather Information System Alert – On the full-featured and truckers’ sites, motorists will see a red triangle over a weather station icon when weather conditions such as fog, high winds, rain, ice and snow exist.

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