Cold weather complicates plowing

5:17 PM, Dec 9, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS - A white knuckle sort of weekend sent drivers in the wrong direction all over the metro.

Snowplow crews will once again head out in full force across the Twin Cities to prepare for the Monday morning commute. The biggest challenge isn't snow, but the cold.

Mike Kennedy oversees plowing for Minneapolis and says when temperatures plummet to single digits, snow seals itself to the surface of the road.

"When the pavement temps drop below zero, then you get that deep heavy bond that becomes really kind of bulletproof. The blades can't scrape it off. The chemicals stop working at 10 to 15 degrees," said Kennedy, director of transportation and maintenance repair for the city of Minneapolis.

A fleet of 33 plows from the city of Minneapolis headed out overnight Sunday to do their best, but Kennedy said the real remedy comes with higher temperatures, preferably the 20s.

"We need to have the temperatures come up so the chemicals can work so the blades can scrape the stuff off, but until that happens it's going to be really treacherous out there and folks need to be really careful driving and walking," said Kennedy.

The Minnesota State Patrol noted since early Sunday morning, troopers handled 417 crashes, with 52 injuries, none serious or fatal.

"Extremely slippery you have to be very, very careful," said Melissa Pettersen Scott, of Golden Valley, who noticed the plowing seems slow going too. "I guess I am a little disappointed on how the roads have been, again with temperature drop maybe it's the best they can do."

Bill Sauter runs Midwest Driving School, and noted out-state Minnesota, where he lives, is more treacherous from the metro.

"Slow down a little bit," said Sauter. "Accelerate gradually, everything should be more gradual when it's like this."

In other areas around the metro, Saint Paul Public Works spokesperson Dave Hunt says the compacted ice would have damaged plows Saturday, but crews were able to lift up some compacted ice Sunday, bringing confidence conditions will be better Monday morning.

Edina city spokesperson Jennifer Bennerotte said a fleet of plows will head out around 4 a.m., and are prepared to head out even earlier if needed.

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