Editor’s note: A version of this article originally appeared in the Weekly Weather Report, which comes out every Monday. You can sign up here to receive them weekly and during heavy storms.
You can read more about the volcano’s impacts on global temperature here.
But that won’t stop Plowy McPlowface, one of Minnesota’s famous snow plows. Through the frosted windows and low visibility, these trucks race. This is what it’s like to drive in such harsh conditions.
“Your visibility is poor, it’s snowing, it’s freezing, your wipers are flapping trying to keep the windshield clean.”
Dan Pendergast is one of the drivers of Minnesota’s 800 snowplows. And in the Twin Cities where he drives, they can see up to 51 inches of snow in a single season.
“Here in Minnesota, things can happen so fast. It can go from rain to snow to ice very quickly and that’s dangerous,” says Pendergast.
In Minnesota, snowplows have names and snowplow drivers are local celebrities. Plowy McPlowface, Dark Blader and F. Salt Fitzgerald, to name a few.
“We thought last year, with everyone at home, it would be a fun thing to do, to have a naming contest, and oh my God, it took off,” says Anne Meyer, of the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The idea came from Scotland, which has over 50 named ploughs. In fact, voting is now on for the next set of plows to be named in Minnesota, if you want to have some fun.
Some of the names you can vote on this year include ‘CTRL Salt Delete’, ‘Edward Blizzardhands’ and ‘Betty Whiteout’, after the legendary actress who passed away on New Year’s Eve.
“It gives him more personality and makes him more human,” says Meyer. “People are more cautious knowing that we have people inside these plows. So we hoped it would help remind people that we do a job there and help protect our men and women who are behind the wheel.
Snowplow drivers, like Pendergast and Minnesota’s 1,600 other snowplow drivers, have a dangerous job on Minnesota’s snowy highways. Working 12-hour shifts, the men and women drive 80,000-pound trucks that simultaneously plow the streets and lay down salt and chemicals to keep the roads from becoming an icy mess.
“The interior of our trucks has three computer screens, four joysticks and several buttons to press to make things happen,” says Pendergast. “So there’s a lot going on on the road and a lot going on inside the cabin.”
He says finding the solution in the streets in the small window of opportunity between the end of the rain and the start of the snow is a tricky dance they train for.
They pull up on the side of the highways and as soon as they see the weather change to wintery precipitation, they drive off, in what they call a team plow.
“We put six or seven trucks in a row, and we push all the snow at the same time, from left to right, and we use our computer systems in the truck which are quite elaborate. This tells us how much salt we put in,” says Pendergast.
Pendergast says when he sees southern cities like Atlanta’s snowmageddon in 2014 and, more recently, the Virginia ice disaster, which left motorists stuck in their cars for 24 hours, he’s not surprised. .
“When it starts to snow, the initial snow will melt on the road and traffic will roll on the road and more snow, the snow will start to pack down and stick to the road. You’re not going to take it off” , says Pendergast. “There’s not much you can do because you won’t be able to get rid of the chemicals and I guess these areas don’t have the equipment that we have here, like the breakers. ice cream and very good cutting-edge equipment. We have 800 plows in the state, 200 in the metro area, Atlanta and Virginia will probably have 40 or less.
He also mentioned that an accident with a tractor-trailer can block traffic for hours, because you will not be able to put maintenance vehicles on the road because of the backup. It’s a domino effect of unfortunate events in cities that don’t usually see so much snow that’s hard to avoid.
“For those cities that don’t have the equipment, you get a freak snow or ice storm, that’s what it is, you can’t blame people for the situation that happens because you have had snow or rain and you don’t have the gear. You won’t be able to keep up,” Pendergast said.
In Minnesota, they have regular experience in the intricacies of road snow removal. Famous snowplows and their operators pay little heed to the celebrity status bestowed on them and focus on the snowy job at hand.
“Most people honk or give a thumbs up,” says Meyer. “Our fear is that we don’t want people to get in our way. We’re not trying to make it into celebrity status, because Plowy McPlowface has a job to do, and we want to make sure they can do the job.
If you want to see these famous snow plows in action, you can watch their dash cam feeds here.
Minnesota, which is used to snow and cold, could experience the coldest night of the season this week.
Lows in some areas on Tuesday evening could drop to 30 degrees below zero, and over the next few days the wind chill in that area will be even colder than forecast.
In fact, it got so cold in the Midwest last week that Lake Michigan is turning out some fantastic frozen pancakes, but that’s not the latest breakfast trend.
See more images and how these ice formations occur.
And now that you’re craving pancakes, let me tell you how to exercise safely in the cold.
It was a real threat in Miami on Monday morning as the temperature dipped below 50 degrees.
“Iguanas begin to become sluggish or sluggish once the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, but once the temperature drops below 45 degrees, all iguanas enter a dormant or stunned state by the cold,” our self-proclaimed resident frozen iguana expert and CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar explained. “They appear to be dead, but they are not. They continue to breathe with critical bodily functions still operating.
This is their body’s way of protecting them until the temperature rises above 50 degrees, which for today should be late morning in most central and southern parts of Florida.
They can be mildly dangerous to humans, Chinchar says.
“Iguanas often sleep in trees, so when their bodies go dormant, they appear to be falling from the sky into streets, cars, swimming pools or even passers-by. And since iguanas are large – adult males can reach 5 feet long and weigh up to 20 pounds – it can be dangerous if one lands on you.
You can read more from Chinchar about past sightings of frozen iguanas here.