Road commission expects second salt shipment to be earlier than usual

File photo
Colleen Irving clears snow from a walkway in front of her house in Sterling in early December. Arenac County has already seen about 25 inches of snowfall this winter, causing the road commission to believe it will have to order its second shipment of salt earlier than usual.
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OMER — The Arenac County Road Commission typically has its road salt delivered in two shipments, and Superintendent Blair Dyer said the second half of the order will likely be needed earlier than usual due to the heavy snowfall in December.

“We’ve used more salt,” he said. “We haven’t ordered a backup yet, which we’ll probably have to do a couple weeks earlier than we normally do. We usually do that in February. We’ll probably do that in January.”

As of Jan. 2, the road commission had used about 900 tons, according to Dyer. He said there were 3,000 tons of salt on hand at the start of winter. For the year, the road commission purchased a total of 5,000 tons of salt. Dyer said he does not anticipate having to buy extra salt to get through the season. He added that once the temperatures dip below 20 degrees, salt loses much of its effectiveness.

In December, about 25 inches of snow fell in the area, according to Andy Sullivan a national Weather Service Meteorologist. He said the average amount of snowfall in December is about 11.4 inches. Last month’s total was the highest for December in several years.

“That’s the most you’ve had since 2009,” Sullivan said. “It’s been four or five years since there’s been that much in December.”

The 25 inches of snow is already more than half of what the area saw all last winter, when there were 47.7 inches total, according to Sullivan. He said in the next week, more snow is expected, but toward the middle or end of January, a thaw is anticipated.

While the snow has Dyer believing the second shipment of salt will be needed sooner than later, he said there have not been any major issues with equipment since the trucks have hit the road.

Dyer said trucks and plows are in good shape. He said only routine maintenance or minor repairs have been needed. Fuel-wise, despite fluctuating prices at the pump, Dyer said the road commission has not had a big problem with gas for the trucks, as its prices do not vary much during the season.

“Of course we burn more fuel now,” he said. “It kind of moderates. It all averages out. Sometimes winter comes early, sometimes it comes later, but generally it’s all close to the same.”

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