Rain ahead of snow storm impacting how road crews prepare

NOW: Rain ahead of snow storm impacting how road crews prepare

NILES, Mich. — It’s routine protocol ahead of a winter storm to treat the roads about 24 hours before to give crews and drivers an advantage before the roads get wet.  

The problem is this time – they already are – as last week’s snow just got a chance to begin melting and rain is expected through the night.  

“What’s different with this storm is because of the rain, if we pretreat it it’s likely to just wash right off,” said Kevin Stack, Interim Director at the Berrien County Road Department.

People shouldn’t worry much about roads not being pre-treated though, as it won’t really change their driving impact.   

“It creates a film on the road that prevents ice and snow from bonding to the pavement, but all it really does is buy our plowers some time at the front end of a storm,” said Nick Schirripa, Communications Representative at MDOT Southwest.

The snow is expected to be that heavier, wet type, which road crews say should lower the chance for a flash freeze, but is going to make it difficult for them to plow through.  

“For us, it’s how hard are our trucks going to have to work to get snow off the road because it’s wet and heavy snow rather than lake effect which is normally fluffy,” said Stack. 

Despite the snow being more dense, drifting is still a concern this week.   

“Drifting snow looks like snow that’s kind of creeping back into the roadway and is usually clean,” said Schirripa. “But then you’ve got slush and it can have the same affect.”  

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