Opinion: Local snowplows should be orange, not white

If there is one thing Minnesota is known for, it is the winters. Not just the cold, but the amount of snow that accumulates with the different storms.

If there is one thing Minnesota is known for, it is the winters. Not just the cold, but the amount of snow that accumulates with the different storms.

After growing up there, I can tell you it is not an exaggeration. I have lived through many snowy, stormy years and am glad to have moved a little bit south and a little bit farther west.

The first weekend in December brought the first winter storm to the Mitchell area, and all things being equal, I noticed that snow storms here in South Dakota are pretty much the same. Granted, the amount of snow wasn't what it ended up being for our neighbors to the east (amounts up to 10 inches), but we were covered in snow just the same. However, there is one thing that I noticed during the storm that caught me off guard. The snowplows here in Mitchell are painted white.

I'm sorry, but I have to ask. Of all the colors in the world, what is the one color you wouldn't expect to see on a snowplow? For me the answer is simply white. Don't they basically become invisible during a storm?

The thought process on this baffles me a little. Are we trying to sneak up on the storm by making our snowplows very stealthlike?


I have to believe they purchased these plows on sale, right? (A white sale I presume.) I would love to have been in the planning room for that discussion. Please tell me we got a heck of a deal on these snowplows. Maybe a two-for-the-price-of-one type of deal or maybe it was buy three white snowplows and we'll throw in a new set of tires.

I can only assume that the drivers of these plows need to be in their plow before the snow starts to fall. Otherwise, how do they find the truck during a heavy (white) snow? If they walk out into the parking lot to get into their truck, doesn't the truck just blend in with the snow?

I can't help but wonder if over the years a conversation has taken place that must sound something to this effect:

Snowplow foreman: "Hey Charlie, what are you doing standing around? We have a foot of snow out there. Get in your truck and start clearing the streets."

Charlie: "I would, boss, but there is one small problem -- I can't find the truck."

Please understand that I am just having a little fun with this topic, but really, let's think about this for a moment.

Shouldn't we pick a contrasting color, or at the very least a color other than white for our snowplows? After all, they don't call it an orangeout.

Maybe a quick fix would be that we could attach one of those big red flags on a 10-foot stick that waves back and forth like we used to have on the back of our bikes. Or was it just the rich kids that had the fancy bikes with the banana seats and the safety flag. Sorry -- I am still a little bitter that I didn't get to have the cool bike.


And then there is the snowplowing slogan, which for years has been "Please, don't crowd the plow." Here again, I have to ask. How would you know you are crowding something you can't see? Did I mention the plows are white?

Yes, I know there are flashing lights on the trucks, but I couldn't see what the lights were attached to so I made the assumption that they were just UFO's hanging around town. Now I know why so many UFO sightings happen. And why they are called in during the winter months. Here is some breaking news for you: They are not UFO's, they are simply snowplow sightings.

I am going to go on record right now and say that if I am out driving and I accidentally run into a plow I will be a little on the upset side -- if I live through the accident. I started perfecting my response in advance for the police officers when they arrive on the scene.

It will go something like this: "Ah, officer, I didn't see the plow, but at the last minute I saw a 'Stay back 75 feet' sign suspended in mid air, then crunch. Apparently the snow plow was white."

My first thought was that maybe I was making too much of this. Maybe I am just used to seeing orange snowplows and maybe, just maybe, this isn't a big deal. So I asked around if people found it to be odd that the snow plows here in Mitchell are white. Quite a few responded that they didn't know the snowplows were white, or that they had never really noticed.

Well, I can only assume that is because they have never been able to see the plow during operation; therefore, they didn't even realize they were white.

What's next? Detailing our fire trucks with flames on the side?

They are red so we can see them.

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