Preparing for inclement weather

Staff Report

November 25, 2013

State and county road crews have prepared for the inclement weather expected to hit the region early today and again tonight.

With more than 21,000 tons of salt on hand, and more than 67 snow plows, salt spreaders and other equipment ready in Bell, Clay, Harlan, Jackson, Knox, Laurel, Leslie and Whitley counties, Kentucky Department of Highways District 11 crews are now on winter weather duty.

Also, the Harlan County Road Department has been readying trucks, plows and other equipment.

Officials say that with freezing rain and possible snow predicted for the area, the Harlan County Road Department is prepared with 500 tons of salt and 17 trucks to help keep the county roads cleared for travel.

The state’s district crews have been inspecting snow plows, calibrating salt-spreading equipment and developing snowstorm response procedures to keep District 11 state roads passable during inclement weather.

“We take snow and ice response very seriously,” Chief District Engineer Sherri Chappell said. “Highway safety is an essential function of the Transportation Cabinet, and our crews are prepared to meet that mandate by keeping our roads as free of snow and ice as possible during bad weather.”

When bad weather hits, crews are assigned 12-hour shifts to plow and treat roads using a priority system based on the amount and nature of traffic within each county.

Priority A routes include major through routes and are those most heavily traveled.

Priority B routes include other important, but lesser traveled, state routes.

Other roads fall into Priority C.

While it’s the Transportation Cabinet’s goal to treat all routes within eight hours of a routine winter storm event, higher priority routes are treated within a one- to four-hour window.

More detailed information about the Kentucky Department of Highways’ snow and ice response plans, including maps of priority routes in each county, is available online at http://transportation.ky.gov/Maintenance/Pages/Snow-and-Ice-Priority-Maps.aspx by clicking the “Snow & Ice Maps” link.

“The Transportation Cabinet recognizes the importance of roadway conditions to Kentucky motorists, especially during winter storms,” Chappell said. “That’s why our highway crews often spend long hours away from home to keep roadways clear for the traveling public. We appreciate their service.”

Throughout snow season, which runs from November to March, highway response teams across Kentucky serve weekly on-call rotations.

The teams monitor weather reports when snow is in the forecast and determine when to activate the state’s arsenal of snow-fighting equipment, including more than 1,000 snow plows.

Motorists are reminded to give a wide berth to plows, salt trucks and other snow-clearing heavy equipment.

To be effective in dispersing de-icing material, trucks tend to travel at a slower speed.

Also, snow plows may create a snow cloud which can cause a white-out or zero-visibility condition, so keep a safe distance from the trucks.