SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — The winter storm is putting a lot of weekend travel plans on hold. Plow drivers have been out since early this morning making sure the interstates are clear.
Driving in the open areas is all the more challenging with the strong winds reducing visibility. Drivers with the South Dakota DOT face those same hazards as they try to clear the roads of snow. And their work is far from over.
Even in poor visibility, DOT plow drivers never lose sight of the task at hand.
“Right now, we’re just in plowing mode, we just plow, plow, plow and try to keep the roads open,” DOT lead highway maintenance worker Curt Theisen said.
Curt Theisen, a 21-year veteran of the DOT has been on the job since 4 a.m.
“It wasn’t snowing yet at that point. But we were loading trucks, checking them over, making sure they’re ready to go as soon as it started snowing. We hop in the trucks and we’re on it right away,” Theisen said.
Theisen drives one of the Sioux Falls office’s three tow-plows, which can clear snow from two lanes of the interstate at the same time.
“So, we’re covering twice as much as everyone else is,” Theisen said.
Plows are making multiple passes over the same stretches of interstate because the snow keeps re-drifting.
“That’s our primary concern with this event so far is the wind is causing drifting in sheltered areas, especially at bridge ends and as you get into the open areas with the wind, we’re seeing visibility sometimes down to a quarter mile and less in isolated areas with the wind gusting,” DOT Region Engineer Travis Dressen said.
Even when the snow lets up, the winds will keep howling so plow operators will keep hitting the interstates well into the weekend.
“With the winds blowing has hard as they say they’re going to blow, it sounds like we’ll be at it all day tomorrow and probably into Sunday,” Theisen said.
The DOT is reminding drivers not to crowd the plow after a vehicle rear-ended a plow truck on Interstate 29 north of Sioux Falls this morning. Fortunately, no one was hurt.