View from DOT snowplow camera in northwest Iowa last winter.

A mixture of freezing rain that will turn into snow is forecast for Thursday into Friday.

A spokesman with the Iowa Department of Transportation office in Mason City, Pete Hjelmstad says they haven’t had to worry much about handling winter weather so far this season.

“It’s a little bit of an abnormal year so far anyway we know that it can change quickly and we can catch up pretty quickly as well,” Hjelmstad says. He says the official winter season for the DOT actually starts October 15th.

“We’ve had plenty of time to get all the trucks ready, all the front end loaders, plows, everything is ready to go. When that snow does hit I’m sure everyone is kind of eyeing the forecast and knows later this week their is a possibility. We’re ready. When it hits, we’ll be out there,” Hjelmstad says. He says they stay busy even without snow, doing culvert and sign inventory and light patchwork on various roadways. Hjelmstad says they do a lot of brush removal as well.

“Mainly focusing on what we call the red cedars. They look like pine trees in the ditch and they’re an invasive species. They’ve been hitting our area pretty hard the last few years so we are doing what we can to get rid of them,” Hjelmstad says. “If we leave them alone they can cause a lot of problems with our culverts, with our subdrains, they can end up blocking signs because they grow quickly. It’s a statewide initiative to get them out of our right of ways.” The Iowa DOT encourages you to to visit this winter to track snow plows in real time, view road conditions, and even view photos of road conditions. Snow plow dashboard cameras take photos of the roads and post them online every fifteen minutes.

(By Mark Freie, KLMJ, Hampton)