New words for winter snow conditions offered


The Minnesota Department of Transportation today said it’s going to start describing winter road conditions differently so that you can more clearly understand just how bad — or good, as the case may be — the roads are.

Here are the old words that MnDOT once used:

Hazardous/travel not advised

Here are the new ones:

Partially covered
Completely covered
Travel not advised

“We were getting a fair amount of complaints,” Kelly Braunig of MnDOT said in a news release. “An interpretation of good or fair might be completely different from person to person. We listened to our users and made improvements.”

Of course the public will have to know that “completely covered” means:

  • Pavement completely covered (i.e. rain, frost, ice sleet/slush, snow or a mixture thereof)
  • Sleet/slush means pavement is 100% wet and may have slick spots or standing water
  • Snow accumulation completely obscures the pavement markings
  • Heavy snowfall, strong winds, ground drifting and freezing rain make travel difficult and hazardous.
  • Normal traffic speeds WILL be impacted due to reduced visibility

In other words: “difficult.”

Here’s the full description of each description. Try to memorize them before the snow flies.

This is all part of Gov. Mark Dayton’s order to state agencies to rewrite things into plain English. The new words were taken from Iowa.

The old words were subjective. One person’s “difficult” is another person’s “Yee-haw, let’s drive like an idiot because we’ll never end up in the ditch.”

That won’t be a problem with the new words.