Track snowplows and see road conditions online

MI Drive, snowplow tracker
MI Drive shows a photo from a Michigan Department of Transportation snowplow on I-94 near Kalamazoo. (Dec. 11, 2017)

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — If you’re planning on driving in snowy conditions, you may want to check out a state website that shows you in real time where plows have been and where they’re going.

Ice, slush and snow can add up fast — sometimes faster than snowplows can drive.

“We can’t be everywhere at once,” Michigan Department of Transportation spokesman Nick Schirripa said.

But now you’ll know exactly where they are. After piloting the program the last couple of years, snowplow tracking on MDOT’s Mi Drive website is now operational everywhere in the state.

“People really seem to appreciate it,” Schirripa said. “It gives us the ability to share not just kind of inside information about how we’re doing and what we do, but it gives people kind of that inside look on their own where plows are and what they’re doing.”

Here’s how it works: When you go to Mi Drive at Michigan.gov/drive, you’ll see a map of Michigan showing all the main highways. Be sure to check the box in the map legend to see the layer that shows snowplows.

MI Drive, snowplow tracker
Photo: The snowplow tracker on MI Drive displayed on a smartphone.

The blue snowplow icons show where trucks are plowing and/or applying material to the roads. The purple icon has one added feature: It shows a picture of what the driver sees out the front window. It refreshes every 60 to 90 seconds.

“It’s one piece of the puzzle,” Schirripa said. “Certainly, by no means is it the answer to every question, but it helps form a more clear picture of what’s going on.”

Schirripa says the website isn’t only for the public.

“The GPS actually has a two-fold purpose,” he said. “We use it internally as well. We use it in conjunction with a lot of meteorological information, road surface temperature, that kind of stuff that helps us decide when and where to deploy our forces.”