I'm not casting stones, as I do it all the time too. I drive when safety officials tell us to stay home. In fact, I spend most of my work day on those winter days telling people not to drive. Then I hop in my car and join the throngs that don't pay heed.

I drove into Owatonna during the Great Freeway Shutdown of 2019. I drove out of Owatonna during the Monster Young Like Cake Auction Storm of 2018. I stayed out of the ditch each time, but there have been some close calls.

A few years back, I drove to Rochester on Highway 52 to cover section wrestling and hockey during a winter storm/blizzard. I stayed on the road by keeping myself between the cars that were already in the ditch. The Owatonna boys hockey team got there by sliding along Highway 14 that night. Wrestling teams had various adventures. I was told one bus backed up several miles when it ran into a closed road to find a different route to Rochester. The sports must go on!

So, what makes us think we should drive in those conditions?

The Freeborn County emergency management director Rich Hall told the Star Tribune, "We expect everything to just be instantly taken care of for us. That's not how it works. We've come a long way, but Mother Nature still wins out."

Many travelers stranded in Owatonna recently found that out. The state patrol reported that hundreds of motorists had to be rescued from their vehicles across southern Minnesota during that recent blast.

Freeborn County Sheriff said drivers get a little too confident. He said during a storm a few years ago, "The first 16 vehicles that I came across (in the ditch) were all four-wheel-drives."

We face the dilemma again this weekend (March 9-10). If you do travel, slow down, have an emergency kit with you and stay with your vehicle if you do get stuck.

Read also: Flooding could become a problem this spring due to all the snow, Highway 14 expansion will move on after legislative glitch is fixed.


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