CLARENCE, N.Y. (WIVB) –Temperatures the past two weeks have been well below average. Most recently, the below zero thermometer readings have caused Erie County employees to rethink their road treatment plans. During a normal winter, Erie County is equipped with more than enough salt to handle all 5 zones.
This year, with the unexpected cold snap, they’ve already placed a second order for more. But why are they going through so much?
Charles Sickler, Deputy Commissioner of Highways in Erie County told News 4, “Once you get down below 10 degrees salt is not as effective as it is at the higher temperatures.”
In the past few weeks, temperatures have struggled to climb above out of the single digits, where usually temperatures this time of year would be in the low 30s during the afternoon. Sickler said, “It’s been bitter. I think everyone is shivering from it. It’s colder than expected and broke some records.”
Those record breaking cold temperatures have made the traditional road salt less effective. The county is trying to double down on that and add some heavier salt to make up for it. Sickler said, “We do have a blast control on the trucks so as we go through the intersection we put down heavier salt. With the sun out that helps because that’s a big factor that helps active the salt.”
To lay more salt down. More bodies are needed. Erie County has changed the way they staff throughout this brutally cold season, Sickler said, “We have gone to double shift now. So we have coverage in the morning and the evening. We really have the full contingent of trucks out, we really can’t add anymore.”
In addition to being on the roads all the time, Sickler told News 4 that they are able to move staff to different areas of the county based off of where the snow is falling heaviest, That means in a big lake effect event where the most snow is falling, they will allow all their resources to go to that area.