Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tweets from the Passenger Seat

This morning, MoDOT Customer Relations Manager Marisa Ellison hopped in the passenger seat of one of our snowplows and gave a running commentary of what she saw in the Hannibal area via Twitter. Here's her account:

Snow plowing is serious business, so when I mentioned to Maintenance Superintendent Butch Mundle I wanted to tweet from a snow plow, he humored me.

Jamie Gottman was my capable snow “chauffeur,” and we took out onto US 61 north of Palmyra January 12 at 7 a.m. Snow was flying, wind blowing, and it was downright cold. Not in the plow, though. I could safely “tweet” the experience in a comfortable, heated setting while listening to country music on the radio. I tried not to distract Jamie; he was excellent at paying attention - and you have to be in a snow plow. I tweeted “there are several controls used in the cab, such as one for the gears, one for the blade, and one for the wing plow.” I forgot to mention the spreader control panel on the dashboard that distributes salt and other chemicals from the bed of the dumptruck. Jamie never missed a beat, or an intersection, or a shoulder.

We saw several accidents, which wasn’t surprising considering it was the first time many drivers had been in snow this year. I tweeted about one accident, which had traffic backed up, then tweeted about the next accident right up the road. Emergency responders had their work cut out for them in the frigid temps. But so did Jamie. Because the crashes caused traffic to stop, the unused lanes ahead were quickly covered by snow. Then it started snowing harder. Jamie made quick work of those flakes.

Soon, he asked if I was ready to go back to the office, and I was. Tweeting for two hours could have been challenging, yet Jamie and our surroundings kept it interesting. MoDOT's regional and statewide Twitter accounts pick up dozens of new followers with each winter weather event and this morning was no exception. I hope our followers found the tweets from a snowplow as educational as I did.