(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.)— Fall colors are beautiful across northwest Missouri this year, but it won’t be long before things begin to turn white.
To make sure everything is ready when the first snowflakes fly, the Missouri Department of Transportation is holding its statewide winter operations drill Wednesday, Nov. 7.
The goal behind the drill is to ensure crews are ready to address major weather when it becomes an issue in Northwest Missouri and across the state.
Motorists may notice increased numbers of MoDOT vehicles on state routes during the drill. In rural areas, crews will deploy after 8 a.m. In urban areas, the drill will not begin until after 9 a.m. The exercise should be completed by 3 p.m.
"The annual drill helps to make sure we all know our roles during a winter storm so we can do our jobs successfully,” said State Maintenance Engineer Becky Allmeroth. “More than 3,500 MoDOT employees are involved in ensuring we clear roads and bridges as quickly as possible when winter weather hits.”
During the drill, MoDOT employees will react to a simulated forecast of significant snow for the entire state. The department’s emergency operations centers will activate and maintenance employees will be deployed to their trucks. Emergency communications systems will also be tested.
The drill serves as a training reminder to make sure proper equipment, plowing techniques and safety measures are used. In addition, every piece of equipment – every truck, motor grader, snow blower, and tractor – is inspected.
"Careful planning and preparation mean our crews can mobilize when needed, and our equipment will be ready," said Allmeroth.
Allmeroth said one of the most valuable parts of the drill is that it allows MoDOT’s newest employees the opportunity to drive a snowplow over their designated routes so they are aware of obstacles and obstructions, such as curbs and raised islands, that might be hidden in snow or ice.
MoDOT spends about $43 million each year to keep roads clear in the winter and help ensure motorists get to their destinations safely and quickly. In an average winter, MoDOT employees plow about 6 million miles of snow and ice, which is enough to go to the moon and back 13 times.
For information on road conditions across the state, safe traveling tips, and other winter weather information, visit www.modot.org.