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La Crosse County snowplow operators prepare for incoming snowstorm

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WEST SALEM, Wis. (WXOW) --- With an incoming snowstorm this weekend, the La Crosse County Highway Department is preparing for what lies ahead.

While many drivers are not a fan of the conditions, snowplow operators look forward to moving some snow.

"We have like a foot of snow coming," said Damian Weiland, state operator patrolman for the La Crosse County Highway Department. "You get totally jacked for that."

Weiland is one of the veterans at the department, serving as a snowplow operator for 13 years. He began his career in Juneau County, clearing snow on the interstate. His message to drivers during these conditions is simple.

"Traffic, they have to realize they can't always go 70 miles per hour just because it's the interstate," said Weiland. "It gets totally covered in snow, and you can't see any lines just the same as any other road. It just takes time to clean it up."

53 people are able to operate a snowplow truck at the department. 27 serve as drivers who travel out on 27 different routes between state and county highways, including Interstate 90.

"You have to have the crew set up, you have to have your second shift set up, and when they're going to come in, where they're going and who they're going to fill in for," said Leif Nelson, county patrol superintendent for the La Crosse County Highway Department.

Nelson helps orchestrate the different routes and schedules for the drivers. Each driver covers 40-44 lane miles in the county. Plowing those roads all depends on the type of incoming weather.

"When it happens all at once, we can't be in every spot and it's just as dangerous for us out there in the trucks as it is for the people in the cars," said Nelson.

Plow truck drivers hit the roads as soon as the snow starts to fall. They also provide salt for slick and rain conditions.

"If I can keep them on the road for 11 miles, that's a win for me," said Weiland.

Drivers plow over 1,000 miles of roadway throughout the county.

Mike Beiermeister

WXOW Weekend Anchor and Reporter

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