Ep. 32 Ehrmergerd Sner! (Aka Snow Removal and Transportation)

Snow sure seems to interrupt life here in North Carolina, whether it’s an inch or a blizzard. In this episode, we talk about getting around in the snow and learn from the NCDOT a bit about the removal process.

Also, we shared  a few updates:

  • Sad news first. One of the people we interviewed for our episodes about the TRACS system recently passed away. In Episode 27 we talked to James Benton, who not only used the system but sat on a few related boards. Benton obituary.
  • In other news, the West Street Cycletrack project is moving forward. They had an open house this month so residents could stop by and learn more. I popped by for a moment and Harry at Oaks and Spokes said they are aiming to get it set up in May. That’s Episode 25 if you want to go back and listen. They still need donations.
  • Finally, we are scheduling a date for our next reader/listener meetup. We’re all set for Feb. 20 at 5:30 p.m. at Tobacco Road in Raleigh. We hope to see some of you there!

Other Episode Links

National Weather Service – Average Total Snowfall (inches) for Selected Cities in the Southeast

City of Raleigh/GoRaleigh Weather Information

January 19, 2005 Winter Storm Summary – NWS

Raleigh Woman’s Snow Photo Goes Viral


These were sent out in a press release ahead of one of the winter storms.

Why Does NCDOT Sometimes not Pre-treat the Roads?

Our crews often treat roads with a salt and water mixture called brine that helps prevent ice from forming on the roads at the beginning of the storm.

To be most effective, the brine must be applied on dry roads when the temperature is above 18 degrees. So, if the forecast calls for an event to begin as all rain, the crews won’t pre-treat because the brine would be washed away. Interestingly, brine is about half the cost of rock salt.

When Will my Road be Cleared?

DOT is responsible for more than 163,800 lane miles of roads, so it must prioritize which roads to target first. Interstates and U.S. routes are cleared first because they are essential for connectivity.

Once those roads are clear, crews shift to N.C. routes, then lower-volume primary routes, secondary roads then subdivisions.

Why Did a Snowplow Drive by my House With its Plow Up?

Drivers have specific routes they are assigned, so the driver was likely on the way to that route or back to the maintenance yard to replenish salt supplies.

Can I Get Home?/How Do I Get Home?

The best way to get information about specific road conditions is to go to DriveNC.gov. There you can search by route, region or county. You can also view traffic cameras and find links to other important information.

What is Black Ice and How do You Treat It?

Black ice is snow or ice that has melted and refrozen into thin layers. Because it looks like a wet spot on the road, it appears black like the pavement. To treat it, the department applies rock salt to aid in melting. Sand is sometimes added to help increase traction and break down the ice.

NCDOT does its best to treat areas it knows are prone to black ice, but because it is in isolated spots and forms quickly, it’s not possible to treat every spot. The best way to avoid black ice is to stay off roads unless you absolutely must go out. If you do, drive slowly and leave plenty of space between vehicles in front of you.