Incoming winter weather expected to be challenge for road crews

Kalamazoo County Winter Weather Roads
Posted at 5:19 PM, Feb 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-15 17:19:32-05

KALAMAZOO COUNTY, Mich. — Monday night's incoming weather will once again be a challenge for road crews with wind chills near zero.

The Road Commission of Kalamazoo County said it's currently a waiting game.

Normally, crews would pre-treat the roads, but the combination of extremely low temps and already covered roads have put them on pause until snow starts coming down.

"With this storm, we are expecting that we might have some visibility issues, so the actual execution of the work, they just need to take their time and move slowly. People forget they are drivers too," said the Road Commission of Kalamazoo County's Communications Administrator Elli Blonde.

As road crews in Kalamazoo County prepare for the winter storm headed for West Michigan on Monday night, they're planning the best method to keep roads clear for drivers.

"We love to pre-treat. Typically we would, but the issue with this specific storm is we don’t have bare roads, and it is not the perfect temperature. You have to have the right temperature, the right pavement temperature, everything has to be just right in order to do those preparations," said Blonde.

The Road Commission said salt becomes less effective in temperatures below 20, but they have found a way to maximize that efficiency using it between 12 and 20 degrees with a solution called 'boost'.

"It works great, but it is not a fix all. That is why we have other solutions like sand. We have our blade that we can use. We sometimes pre-treat. We have different methods when applicable, and salt is not always the answer to go with," said Blonde.

Since temperatures with this storm are expected to dip around 10 degrees, you won't see road crews using strictly salt.

"You will see a sand-salt mixture go out and a little bit heavier on that sand. The sand is not going to melt things like the salt would normally, but it is going to provide a little bit more traction and of course just clearing the road," said Blonde.

There are around 27 people who work around the clock to clear the roads in Kalamazoo County.

They start by focusing on priority roads, those with higher traffic and work their way down.

Road crews are encouraging drivers to stay home if they don't have to leave. If you must leave your home, they are asking drivers to be patient, reduce your speeds and give the road crews room to do their jobs.