State highways, interstate closed Thursday night

Dec. 23—The Free Press

MANKATO — The Minnesota Department of Transportation Thursday night issued an immediate no-travel advisory for state highways in southcentral and southwest Minnesota, including I-90, due to blizzard conditions and zero visibility.

Counties included in the no-travel advisory are Blue Earth, Brown, Cottonwood, Faribault, Jackson, Le Sueur, Martin, Nicollet, Nobles, Rock, Sibley, Waseca, and Watonwan.

Most state highways in southcentral and southwest Minnesota closed at 7 p.m. All state highways in the following counties closed: Brown, Cottonwood, Faribault, Jackson, Martin, Nobles, Rock, Waseca, and Watonwan. Several state highways in Blue Earth (Hwy 169 north of Mankato), Le Sueur (Hwy 99 east of St. Peter and Hwy 19 from Henderson to New Prague), Nicollet (Hwy 169) and Sibley (Hwy 169 and Hwy 19 from Gaylord to Henderson) counties will remain open as conditions allow. Additional road closures are likely as conditions are expected to further deteriorate overnight and on Friday.

Challenges with this blizzard stem from prolonged high winds causing blowing and drifting snow, dramatically reduced and zero visibility at times, along with extremely dangerous wind chills. Conditions could be life-threating if travelers were to become stranded. Travelers should consider changing travel plans until the blizzard warning is no longer in effect.

MnDOT reminds motorists that it is illegal to travel on a closed road and if a motorist requires rescuing, they are liable for all related rescue costs.

No-travel advisory means that the roadway has deteriorated and/or visibility has been reduced to the point that it is very dangerous to travel; there are reports of intermittent whiteout conditions; and, some weather conditions can be severe enough that road treatments, such as salt or sand, are not effective. Motorists are advised not to travel in these areas until conditions improve.

MnDOT District 7, serving the Mankato and Windom areas, is not staffed for 24-hour coverage. Crews in southcentral and southwest Minnesota are expected to be out until 7 p.m. Thursday. Crews will resume operations Friday morning, weather permitting, but conditions are expected to remain difficult though Saturday.

If you must travel, motorists should have a full tank of gas and winter survival kit and remember to:

Check or get the free smartphone app at Google Play or the App Store for road condition information, travel alerts.

Stay alert for snowplows, which turn or exit frequently and often with little warning. They also may travel over centerlines or partially in traffic to further improve road conditions.

Stay back at least 10 car lengths behind the plow. Don't drive into a snow cloud.

Slow down to a safe speed for current conditions.

Turn on your headlights and wear your seat belt.

Turn off the cruise control.

Be patient and remember snowplows are working to improve road conditions for your trip.

Don't drive distracted.

Motorists can sign up for email or text travel alerts for state highways at by clicking "Email and text updates" under the "Connect with us" heading. Choose to receive messages via email or text message. Then, choose the "South Central MN" under the "Travel Alerts" category.