Salt crews out for first expected accumulating snowfall

Sooner rather than later, Wisconsin roads will be covered with ice and snow. Here’s what you should know before getting behind the wheel.
Sooner rather than later, Wisconsin roads will be covered with ice and snow. Here’s what you should know before getting behind the wheel.
Published: Nov. 15, 2022 at 8:03 AM CST|Updated: Nov. 15, 2022 at 3:32 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Ready or not, here snow comes. Wisconsin is bracing for the first expected accumulating snowfall of anywhere between one and three inches.

In the city, once snow begins sticking to the pavement, 32 city trucks roll through the salt routes of Madison. Residential roads only get plowed if three or more inches of snow fall, and those are never salted.

In an update from Streets Division Superintendent Charlie Romines, it stated trucks would continue applying salt on designated routes through the evening rush hour and into the night. Romines noted that plow trucks hit the streets before 5:30 a.m. Tuesday.

“Residential areas likely won’t be touched with this particular storm...we don’t plow everything in the City of Madison until there is three or more inches of snow on the road and the storm is at its end,” said Bryan Johnson, Streets Division spokesperson. “So it’s probably not going to get there with this one, but if it does we’re going to be ready for it!”

Nearly half of all Madison traffic lanes make up the salt route network, the City of Madison says. This route includes critical streets around Madison, like Madison Metro bus routes, and roads around schools, hospitals, police stations and fire stations.

“When you see our plows out there give them the space to do their work, so stay back from them, don’t crowd them, definitely don’t tailgate them or cut them off,” said Johnson. “They’re out there just to make the roads safer and they’re not nearly as nimble as a regular passenger vehicle so they can’t slam on the breaks and stop on a dime, they’re multi-ton vehicles carrying a few tons of salt too so just be smart, be safe, be patient.”

Romines urged commuters to drive slow and be patient, as Madison roads may be wet and slippery.

If you’d like to stay in the know about city plowing you may sign up for updates here. The City of Madison Winter Facebook page is also a good resource for condition updates.

While snow may be beautiful, it can be dangerous when driving on the roads. Wisconsin Department of Transportation gives these tips for drivers:

  • Before leaving your location, check highway conditions and incidents by visiting 511wi.gov
  • Let others know about your planned route and expected arrival time
  • Clear snow and ice from your vehicle’s windows, front and rear lights, roof and hood
  • Most winter crashes and slide-offs are caused by drivers going too fast for the existing conditions, so remember, posted speed limits apply to ideal travel conditions
  • Turn on your vehicle’s low-beam headlights to help see what’s ahead and help other drivers see you
  • State law requires drivers to turn on their vehicle’s low-beam headlights any time that weather or other conditions make it difficult to see objects 500 feet ahead
  • Sudden braking or steering can cause you to lose control of your vehicle, so use brakes early and carefully
  • Remember that bridge decks/overpasses can be especially slippery, even when adjacent pavements are in good travel condition
  • Watch for snowplows, and stay at least 200 feet behind a working plow and use extra caution if you decide to pass
  • Keep a safe distance behind large trucks — along with obscuring your view of the road ahead, pieces of snow or ice can blow off the top of commercial trucks as they travel down the highway
  • Winter storm advisories/warnings are routinely posted on dynamic message signs along major highway corridors, so stay aware

WisDOT does not own any snowplows, instead, the department contracts with the 72 county highway departments to plow and provide ice control on all state and us-numbered highways and the interstate system.

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