Winter Weather Resources

Winter Weather Definitions

The Minnesota Department of Transportation uses the below terms to describe winter road conditions.

Man driving in winter weather looking out of windshield

Pavement is Normal

  • Dry or wet pavement. May include icy bridge decks.
  • There may be reduced visibility, adjust driving speeds accordingly

Partially Covered

  • Ice, sleet/slush, snow or mixture causing the roadway to be partially covered (up to 50%)
  • Roadway may become slick, snow packed or rutted
  • May include moderate blowing and drifting snow
  • Drivers may experience difficulty seeing road markings
  • There may be reduced visibility, adjust driving speeds accordingly

Completely Covered

  • Pavement completely covered (i.e. rain, frost, ice sleet/slush, snow or a mixture thereof)
  • Sleet/slush means pavement is 100% wet and may have slick spots or standing water
  • Snow accumulation completely obscures the pavement markings
  • Heavy snowfall, strong winds, ground drifting and freezing rain make travel difficult and hazardous.
  • Normal driving speeds will be impacted due to reduced visibility. Reduce speed.

Travel Not Advised

  • 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 white out conditions.
  • Some weather conditions can be severe enough that road treatments, such as salt or sand, are not effective.
  • Emergency vehicles and snow removal equipment may be called off the roadway due to the conditions.
  • In the event of an emergency, it may be impossible to get emergency vehicles to the scene.


This will be described by distance such as ½ mile or less, 1/10 mile or less or complete white out.

Wind Chill

Wind Chill is a term used to describe what the air temperature feels like to the human skin due to the combination of cold temperatures and winds blowing on exposed skin. In simple terms, the colder the air temperature and the higher the wind speeds the colder it will feel on your skin if you're outside.

Use of the information on this website is at the user’s sole risk. The contents are provided as general information for the purpose of education and better understanding of organizations’ roles in winter road way safety.  All information is provided in good faith from a variety of resources based on available information at the time of publishing. The cited organizations make no representation or warranty of any kind, express or implied regarding the accuracy, adequacy, validity, reliability, availability or completeness of any information on this website. Under no circumstances do the organizations represented have any liability for any loss or damage incurred as a result of the use of this website or reliance on any information provided on this website. This website contains links to third party websites. Such links are provided solely for the convenience of users. The user is advised the organizations represented make no guarantees whatsoever as to any information contained on a linked third party website. The use of any information from a linked third party is solely at the user’s risk.
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