ST. PAUL (WJON News) - The Minnesota Department of Transportation will start sending text messages this winter to alert drivers to closed roads and other weather-related driving problems.

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Officials say MnDOT will send an emergency alert, much like an Amber Alert, when roads are expected to be closed for more than four hours due to a weather-related problem like snow, ice, flooding, or a major crash.

MnDOT Commissioner Nancy Daubenberger says the extra tool will be useful in helping minimize the number of cars on the road during an emergency.

The ability to send WEA messages through IPAWS is an important additional tool for MnDOT to provide real-time information to the traveling public. Road closures can occur suddenly, especially in cases of severe weather or major crashes on the highway system. With WEA messages, MnDOT will be able to send immediate mobile alerts to people in the vicinity of a highway closure or detour – helping minimize motorists on roadways during winter conditions and aiding law enforcement and emergency personnel in responding to incidents quickly.

The alerts will be sent to all phones within a one-mile band around the highway, beginning 10 miles ahead of the closure location. The alerts will include a link to 5-1-1-MN dot org, the state’s online road information system.

Officials speculate a text alert will look like this:

"EMERGENCY ALERT – The I-90 corridor is closed from the South Dakota border to Albert Lea due to blizzard conditions. Go to for more information and updates."

Many states have used the system successfully in the past, and many county sheriff's offices already have permission to use the same system in case of emergencies.



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