Preparing for 'Old Man Winter'
by Nick Austin
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB-TV)--You don't have to think back to long to remember the last crippling winter storm in the Tennessee Valley. It happened in late January of this year.
Even though the outlook this season calls for fewer snow and ice events than last, the City of Chattanooga is still ready to meet the challenge. The Public Works Department has around 40 trucks at its disposal to treat roads before and during a storm. Officials take a common sense approach regarding policies.
"We'll work primary or principal arterial streets from the city out if people are working downtown, or if it's a nighttime event we try to work from the outskirts on these primary roads working in," explained Tony Boyd, Assistant Director of Operations with the Chattanooga Public Works Department. That would make it easier for commuters to get downtown for work the next morning.
He has an arsenal of 23,000 gallons of brine and 4000 tons of salt and sand to battle mother nature in the winter. Salt and sand were purchased at a relatively low rate in the off-season to replenish what was used last year. Spraying the brine about 24 hours prior to a storm's arrival can make a big difference.
"If we can do that and keep the ice and snow from adhering to the surface of the road, then it's much easier to treat with salt and sand and much less expensive," said Boyd. Compare the costs of five dollars for every 100 gallons of brine to $30 per ton of salt and $100 per ton of sand.
Even if the city is ready, though, motorists have to prepare as well. There are the usual winterizing tips for your vehicle such checking antifreeze levels, tire tread, and battery strength. However, Chattanooga auto mechanic Wesley Hayes has a simple piece of advice for those who don't have the luxury of parking in a garage.
"Cover the windshield," exclaimed Hayes. "Auto suppliers have thermal blankets you can put over the windshield. That would protect it."
Have a can of de-icer on hand to thaw locks and handles. Don't pour hot water over them in an attempt to free them of their ice cocoon. Hayes said that won't work.
"Generally hot water will freeze a little quicker than cold water. So you're going to defeat your purpose," explained Hayes.
Winter driving tips include the usual. If at all possible do not try to drive on icy roads. On snowy roads drive slowly.