Berrien County Road Department prepares for winter storm

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. – The roads may be clear on Tuesday—but they won’t stay that way.

A massive winter storm is expected to hit during the peak of holiday travel on Thursday and Friday—with the potential to make the roadways unsafe before Christmas.

The plow operators in the state are getting ready to take on that snowfall.

“They’re fresh. They’re always ready to go,” said MDOT spokesman Nick Schirripa.

“They feel that they’re ready to tackle whatever the weather has to throw at them, throw at the county,” agreed Mark Heyliger, Director of the Berrien County Road Department.

But keeping the roads clear with this kind of weather is no simple task.

“At temperatures below twenty degrees, salt becomes less effective,” Heyliger said. “While snow and ice are one thing, the wind adding to that mix could create blizzard-like conditions, or white-out conditions, and I think people really need to evaluate the situation before they jump on the road.”

And to make matters worse, Heyliger tells me that there may be times when it will be too dangerous for his snowplow drivers to operate!

“It’s the wind blowing the snow that creates the white-out conditions, and there may come a time, if white-out conditions present themselves, that we may actually have to pull our drivers back,” he said. “If it’s unsafe for a car, it’s unsafe for our snowplow drivers as well.”

Heyliger added that the plows will be dropping sand on the icy roads as well as salt—to help give drivers more traction.

While the winter storm may make some drivers rethink their travel plans—Heyliger wants motorists to make smart and informed decisions before hitting the roads this weekend.

“We should all be cognizant of the risk that winter driving presents,” he said. “We should analyze those risks, mitigate them when we can, and be patient when on the road in a storm.”

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