Snow plow drivers will be busy over the next couple days with the first major winter storm of the season bearing down on Iowa.

Annette Dunn is Winter Operations Manager with the Iowa Department of Transportation. “We have about 900 trucks available and although I don’t think we’ll need them for this winter storm, we do also have snow blowers,” Dunn said. “All of our salt sheds are full at this point statewide and we are ready to go.”

The forecast calls for heavy snow at times and near-blizzard condition across much of the state today into tomorrow. Dunn is advising motorists not to “crowd the plow” and simply slow down when they see any of the DOT’s bright orange vehicles. “Especially with this storm that we have coming, there’s probably going to be some visibility issues and there’s not a snow plow in the world that can help us with visibility issues,” Dunn said. “And you may approach a snow plow very quickly since they’ll be going only about 25 to 40 miles an hour.”

Snow plow operators didn’t log many hours last year thanks to one of the mildest winters in the state’s history. Dunn says DOT workers have still been busy. “We’re are actually out there dealing with frost and trying to prevent frost, so we are using material and staff time,” Dunn said. “The nice weather has allowed us to shift our resources over to some of the maintenance we need to do on roadway system.”

Dunn is reminding motorists, if they must travel in foul weather, to keep the gas tank nearly full, pack an emergency survival kit and carry a fully charged cell phone. Items in the winter survival kit in your vehicle should include booster cables, candles and matches, a flashlight with fresh batteries, extra blankets and warm clothes, nonperishable food items, a can for melting water, and a snow shovel.

Motorists can check winter road conditions in Iowa at or by calling 5-1-1.