Rain, ice mean crews can't pre-treat for salting, plowing - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Rain, ice mean crews can't pre-treat for salting, plowing

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Andrea Clifford Andrea Clifford
Gary Vandegriff Gary Vandegriff

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Nineteen nights before Christmas and Sutherland Hardware's most popular stocking stuffer is a 20 lb bag of ice melt.

"We had people call and reserve some, reserve it," employee George West said. "They called, came in an hour later and picked it up to make sure that we still had it."

"Ice, is by far worse than snow," said Gary Vandegriff, regional director for the Indiana Department of Transportation.

He ought to know.

"It keeps us from doing what you'd normally see us do, out putting brine down," he said.

"We also have the possibility of tree limbs freezing, breaking off, power lines coming down," said Andrea Clifford, district spokesperson for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

Kentuckiana's forecast for a mix of rain-sleet-snow-ice Friday and Sunday means there's no place like dome for crews with Louisville Metro Public Works, KYTC, INDOT and a host of municipal and county road departments across the WAVE 3 News viewing area. Dome, as in the repository for salt, brine, cinders and all other aids for clearing streets, highways and paths.

"It's all dependent on the pavement temperature," Vandegriff explained Thursday. We have a very small window of when it's liquid precipitation, before the pavement freezes."

Midnight is the magic hour. Once they hit the roads, drivers will pull 12-hour shifts.

LMPW will cover state roads in Jefferson County so that the Transportation Cabinet may concentrate on Interstate 64, Interstate 65, Interstate 71, the Watterson Expressway and the Gene Snyder Freeway. KYTC will plow state roads in its eight county Metro Louisville coverage area.

"The C-routes are the lowest volume roadways, and we may not get to them for several hours because we're working on those major routes first," Clifford said.

"It does take more salt to melt ice than it does compacted snow," Vandegriff said. "It's pure liquid if it's frozen in the road and it's harder to get up."

"They'll work until its cleared out," Clifford said.

Keeping that promise will be easier, if you'll keep your distance when behind the real. Triple the spacing rule you learned in Driver's Ed ("One Mississippi, Two Mississippi", to mark the number of seconds between your arrival at a road landmark after the vehicle in front has passed it).

"Simple math," Vandegriff said. "Don't cut in front of us. Take 60,000 lbs of truck, put it on ice, then try to stop it. It's not so much the ‘Mississippi's' behind us as it is, the ‘Mississippi's ahead."

May you should make sure you reserve a shovel, instead.

"Hopefully, we'll get some more later in the week," Sutherland's West said. "Maybe next week. We didn't expect it to go off the shelf like this."

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