Whether you’re singing “Let it Snow” as soon as we see our first hard frost or wishing for Spring as soon as Daylight Saving Time ends, we all have a few months of cold winter weather to either celebrate or endure.
The weather geeks experts say this season won’t be anywhere near the onslaught we had last time around (was that a collective sigh of relief I just heard?) — but the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) says they’re geared up and ready to handle whatever Mother Nature sends our way.
The SHA says they’ll be bringing back the sugar beet molasses mixture they tried on Frederick and Howard County roads last winter. They’ve more than doubled the amount of the mix on-hand to 30,000 gallons and they’ll be using it throughout the Washington, D.C. suburbs, around Annapolis and in Western Maryland.
The sugar beet molasses joins traditional salt (340,000 tons of it) and salt brine (675,000 gallons) in the SHA’s attempts to keep the roads safe throughout the coming storms.
While it’s nice to stay at home and watch the snow fall (and let the plows and road crews get their work done), sometimes you really need to hit the road in spite of the storm. The SHA suggests planning ahead with a visit to their “cyber highway” on the Coordinated Highways Action Response Team (CHART) website. There you’ll find snow emergency plans, real-time traffic camera views, weather information, maps that show average travel speeds, and incident-related road closure reports.
The SHA also offers the following snow-related road tips:
- “Don’t Crowd the Plow” – NEVER pass a snow plow or plow train (a series of plows working in tandem). If driving behind a snow plow or salt truck, provide plenty of space (at least 7-8 car lengths) behind the truck.
- If you do not need to drive while is it snowing, please do not.
- Remember – bridges, ramps and overpasses freeze first. Use caution when driving across them.
- Four-wheel drive vehicles are just as vulnerable to slipping on ice as regular two-wheel drive vehicles.
- Pack a winter driving survival kit – including a shovel, blanket, water, jumper cables, flares, snacks and a flash light.
- Before taking to the road, log onto www. roads.maryland.gov, click on the CHART icon and view traffic cameras.
- Obtain a copy of the SHA “Winter Weather Brochure” and keep it in your glove compartment. Brochures are available at Maryland welcome centers and SHA offices.
- Clear snow from your vehicle’s headlights, roof and from other places that may obstruct vision or become a danger to other motorists.
- Make sure your vehicle is in proper working conditions. Check the battery, tire tread and pressure, belts, hoses and fluid levels.
- Travel with plenty of gas in the tank.
- When shoveling snow, please do not place it in the street/roadway. Plow trucks push snow to the right. When facing your driveway, pile snow to your left, off the road. This reminder will save you additional hours of shoveling!
So… let it snow! (…or not.)