Nothing says winter like a storm that drops 11 inches of snow within one day. Yes, it’s pretty to look at as its falling and coating the trees and sidewalks. It’s not too fun to drive in. With the recent surprise visit by snow, it’s a good time to update winter survival kits and review the rules of winter.
The 2010-11 winter season was a busy one for the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Statewide, MnDOT used 267,860 tons of salt, 65,220 tons of sand and nearly 2.55 million gallons of salt brine. In 2009-10, MnDOT used 180,252 tons of salt, 41,833 tons of sand and more than 1.8 million gallons of salt brine. MnDOT spent $81.1 million for snow and ice removal – the highest of any season on record, according to the transportation agency.
Whether a native or a transplant, winter is a brutal season in Minnesota. Here’s what residents should keep in their survival kits to successfully navigate the state’s most challenging weather period of the year.
It’s important to keep the essentials like a shovel, jumper cables, tow and tire chains, a bag of salt and a tool kit in your vehicle. But more is needed. Weather.com suggests survival kits include a flashlight, compass, a first-aid kit, a reflective triangle and brightly-colored cloth, wooden stick matches in a waterproof container and non-perishable high-energy food.
When on the road and before starting your journey, MnDOT advises motorists to remember the following:
• Clear snow from your vehicle windshield, hood and roof. Drivers might be in a hurry but failure to do so can hinder visibility.
• Be patient as snowplows work to improve road conditions. The plows are there to help not only you but other drivers. Let them do their job.
• Slow down as snowplows typically move at slower speeds. Don’t try to pass them. The results can be dangerous.
• Stay at least five car lengths behind the plow, far from the snow cloud.
• Stay alert. Plows turn or exit frequently and often with little warning.
• Call 511 or visit 511mn.org to check road conditions before you leave.
The best way to battle winter is to be prepared. Safe traveling!