MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Winter will return Wednesday night, and the timing will make for a tough morning.
Temperatures are dropping after a four-day thaw, and much of the state is under a winter weather advisory.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation said the timing of this storm is critical. They will have every available plow on the roads once the snow starts to fall – and they are urging people to take extra time and give the plows space to do their job.
The Anoka County Highway Department has one of the most effective and efficient road-clearing operations in the state.
Crews in Andover are working in full force to get a head start before the storm.
“We have three tanker trucks, so before the storm even hits we’ll go out and we’ll spray the road with this chemical so that when the snow does come down it doesn’t stick,” said Doug Fischer, manager of the Anoka County’s transportation division. “It’s easier for us to scrape off, we already have chemical on the road, so the snow is melting as it hits.”
Fischer’s drivers will work 12-hour shifts, or longer.
“We have trucks on the road, drivers doing their job 24/7 as long as the snow event lasts,” he said.
And when it comes to de-icing the roads, they’ve got it boiled down to a science
“We’ll take 80 percent of the sodium chloride solution, the salt brine, and mix it with 20 percent of that other chemical that helps the salt work at those lower, lower temperatures,” Fischer said.
Regular sodium chloride only works at temperatures as low as 15 degrees. By mixing calcium chloride, they can still melt ice at temperatures as low as zero.
Fischer said they also add blue die, which not only keeps the salt from clumping, but also helps drivers see it coming off the spinner.
Fischer emphasized that the most dangerous thing drivers can do is try to pass a plow.
“You can see we have a wing plow off the side of the truck, and sometimes when people try to pass us on the right side of the truck, what they don’t realize is they’re going to drive up on a big chunk of steel,” he said. “It’s very dangerous for them.”
Bottom line? Don’t pass the truck, even if the blade isn’t out.
Give yourself plenty of extra time if you absolutely have to be on the roads, and be patient when stuck behind a plow.