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How the Minnesota Department of Transportation treats the roads in changing weather conditions.

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It's no secret, the Minnesota Department of Transportation uses a lot of salt during the winter. But it's not always so cut and dry, sometime they actually won't put salt down. But how does the DOT know when to use and not use salt?

The answer is a mix of science and communication. The science side is a computer model which takes in their own on-the-ground observations and uses these to adjust their forecast. But how are these observations made?

"It's happening in real time. It's happening with a process we call MDss. What this is, is when a driver goes out in a snow system, he's gonna go over to his route, he's going to be able to pull up a computer screen inside these trucks, and he is going to be able to indicate a weather condition. What he sees on the road," says Robert Langanki, Operations Supervisor for MnDOT District 6.

Using these observations, the computer tells plow operators how to treat the roads. Like if the winds are too strong, they may not be using salt. Or if ice is involved, they resort to other tactics, more than just salt.

The department of transportation holds 15 different plows here at the Rochester station. Each one equipped with salt, brine, and alternative chemicals for extremely cold situations.

Four massive tanks hold 12 thousand gallons of brine which can be made in as quickly as 2 hours. These are then loaded onto the plows to help to continue treating roads.

And as the plow operators update the Minnesota DOT 511 road conditions in real time, we can show you these conditions on KIMT News 3 during a snow event.

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