Stuck in the Snow: Plows - they're just like us

FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - Jon Skedsvold is a North Dakota native, so he understands the urge to drive even when roads are bad.

"I was young a dumb once," he says.

Of course now, he knows from experience to listen to the experts. Currently, major roadways across the area are closed due to poor visibility and drifting snow.

"With the whiteout conditions, it's hard to see even when those drifts are coming," says Skedsvold. "It will catch you off guard really quickly – it does not take long with high winds like this for drifts to build up rapidly."

But Skedsvold is still out driving - because now he's trying to make the roads safer. He's been with the Department Of Transportation for more than a decade and knows the risks drivers take when they ignore the warnings and weather conditions.

"The gates are closed for a reason. It's for their safety, as well as for the safety of the operators," he says. "If you think you're going to make it through in a small pick up or a car – you would be surprised. Otherwise, you'll be out here like us – waiting on a tow truck."

That's right - even in a plow, even an expert driver like Skedsvold can get stuck in the snow. Thursday, his plow got stuck on I-94 just past Casselton. And if his 80,000 pound vehicle can't make it safely on the roads - yours probably won't either.

Skedsvold was eventually towed out of the snow bank by other DOT vehicles - but the typical driver won't be so lucky. Their vehicle could be stuck in the snow until roads reopen, and that's not the only danger they face.

"We have a pick up in front of us right now, also stuck in a snow bank. If we can't see him and we come through these drifts, it's a very dangerous situation for everybody," Skedsvold says.

And if you still need one more reason to stay home - if you're caught driving on a closed road in North Dakota, you could be fined up to $250. In Minnesota, that fine jumps up to $1,000 and possible jail time.

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