JEFFERSON CITY -- In conditions which are more favorable for polar bears than people, the Missouri Department of Transportation road crews will be pulling out all the equipment, people and materials needed to clear the roads.
Winter elements from the north will descend on Missouri on Wednesday and Thursday and the combination of record cold and blowing snow will make getting roads clear for travel a more difficult job.
The department says the cold temperatures make melting ice and snow much more difficult. At 30 degrees, one pound of salt will melt 46.3 pounds of ice, but at 0 degrees, the same pound of salt will melt just 3.7 pounds of ice. Combining the cold with blowing snow, means it could take longer to clear any snow-packed roadways.
"Our crews have had plenty of opportunities to plow snow in the last few weeks," said Don Hillis, MoDOT System Management Director. "This storm brings some new challenges because salt isn't as effective at these low temperatures. That's why we add other products, such as calcium chloride and beet juice to the salt to help it work better as the thermometer drops."
The department urges motorists to be extra cautious when driving on slick roadways, particularly when the temperatures dip below zero and being stranded on the roadside could be very dangerous. The ultra-cold temperatures predicted for Friday will also cause refreeze on anything that had melted previously making ice an even bigger problem.
Road conditions are available at http://www.modot.org/ through the Traveler Information Map. The map shows routes in different colors ranging from clear, to partially covered, covered or closed to travel.
"The best advice we can give is to check road conditions before you leave and allow extra time for travel," said Hillis. "Always buckle up and if you don't have to travel on snow- covered roads, stay home."
Travelers can also call MoDOT's toll-free number, 888-ASK-MODOT, to get road condition information.
Editor's note: Downloadable audio and video clips featuring Tim Jackson, MoDOT's maintenance liaison engineer, are available at ftp://ftp.modot.org/CRmedia/News%20Stories/Cold%20WX%20and%20Beet%20Juice/. To view this FTP site in Windows Explorer, click Page, and then click Open FTP Site in Windows Explorer. Then you can grab the files and drag them onto your desktop.