Plows out in full force preparing for second round of snow, tricky Thursday commutes

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It’s been a busy week of weather and that means it’s a busy time for snowplows.

Crews are working around the clock to clear those streets for drivers.

Compared to Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning’s commutes, traffic moved along easily Wednesday afternoon, but after a couple of crippling commutes, road crews wasted no time trying to battle the clean up overnight and today.

MnDOT has been out around the clock with about 250 trucks crisscrossing the metro and 800 statewide.

Meanwhile, Hennepin County plow crews sent out their full fleet of 71 trucks Wednesday to spread de-icing materials and clear the county roads.

As they’ve worked aggressively through the day ahead of round two of snow, a Hennepin County spokesperson admits the timing is tricky.

Anytime snow is expected during a commute, it’s a challenge for all.

“We do ask people to slow down. We ask people to give our plow drivers room. They sit up pretty high in the trucks, so it’s difficult to see all around the trucks,” said Colin Cox of Hennepin County Transportation. “So we ask people to stay behind and give our plow drivers room and realize these are trucks, with a ton of weight. So, even when it’s slippery out, it can be a challenge for someone who is driving a large truck like one of these.”

MnDOT reports that so far this year, there have been 25 crashes involving snowplows, compared to 85 all of last year.

That includes one from yesterday involving a semi trying to pass a plow without enough room.

Today, MnDOT and other road crews are reminding drivers that plows cannot always see you. They recommend staying at least 10 car lengths back of any plow out on the road.

According to the State Patrol, between 5 a.m. and 2 p.m. Wednesday, 180 crashes occurred. 26 of them involved injuries, including on fatal crash.

Side streets

While state and interstate highways are sometimes the first to be plowed, those side streets that many residents navigate sometimes fall to the wayside. This most recent round of snow is no different. 

Cities across the state are working to determine if they need to issue snow emergencies overnight to keep cars off the road. That way, city plows can come through and clean up those areas where snow has built up.

In Minneapolis, city officials are waiting to see how heavy the snow is overnight before making any declarations. 

Even without a snow emergency, the city of St. Paul has over 30 plows out working on its city streets Wednesday. 

Thursday morning

FOX 9 Chief Meteorologist Ian Leonard said Thursday morning's "hassle factor" will be "sky high." 

Commuters will contend with icy and snowy roads, making travel dicey through the morning commute and lingering into the evening commute. 

"I think one thing to pick up on is, if the winds pick up in time for the evening commute tomorrow, it's not only going to be miserable to look at, it's going to be miserable to drive in, and visibility will be reduced," Leonard added.