Get your drivers ready for the first snow

Winter is coming. The National Weather Service is calling for several inches of snow to blanket Minnesota, Wisconsin, and parts of the Dakotas this weekend, with over 90% confidence. A blast of cold air from Canada will combine with moisture coming off the Great Lakes and produce accumulations around two inches. The region should warm back up in the middle of next week, but temperatures will plunge again next Friday.

“The only major population center that will be impacted is the Minneapolis/St. Paul region and the impact will be relatively minor,” wrote Jon Davis, chief meteorologist at “The Twin Cities will receive 1-3 inches of snow, which is not a big deal for this area, but very strong winds up to 35+ mph will cause some blowing of the snow. The heavier snow totals will be near Lake Superior – northeast Minnesota, extreme northern Wisconsin, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Interstates that will have the most significant impact will be I-90 in, and around, the Twin Cities and I-35 from the Twin Cities to Duluth.”

Now is the time to make sure that truckers operating on affected lanes are prepared to change how they drive. 

Keep a generous 7-14 second following distance, especially when driving through an area’s first storm. Anticipate panicked, unprepared motorists who are not ready for hazardous conditions. 

To maintain control of their trucks on snow and ice, drivers need to slow down and avoid over-braking, especially when the entire unit is not completely straight. Do not use jake brakes on icy roads.

Empty trailers are more susceptible to wind action, especially if you’re driving in ice and snow. 

Be especially cautious on entrance and exit ramps, on bridges, and in intersections where melting and re-freezing snow creates ice patches. Don’t drive in the ruts of other vehicles, because packed snow often refreezes into ice. 

Travel alone—it is much easier to maximize distance around your vehicle if you are not traveling in a pack of other trucks.

Keep your lights, mirrors, windows, and reflective tape clean—clearing snow and ice is crucial in low visibility conditions.

Full fuel tanks means extra weight over the tires, increasing your traction. 

Don’t be afraid to shut it down—use your judgment to keep yourself and other motorists safe… if conditions are dangerous, wait them out. And bring extra gloves, a warm jacket, food and water because you never know when you may get stranded.

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John Paul Hampstead, Associate Editor

John Paul writes about current events and economics, especially politics, finance, and commodities, and holds a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Michigan. In previous lives John Paul studied Shakespeare in London and Buddhism in India, but now he focuses on transportation and logistics in the heart of Freight Alley--Chattanooga. He spends his free time with his wife and daughter herding cats, collecting books, and walking alongside the Tennessee River.