The State Highway Administration is warning drivers that a mix of rain and slushy snow this afternoon that could make today’s after-work rush hour more sloppy than usual.
The SHA says drivers should plan for a longer than usual commute home, despite pavement temperatures that are generally above freezing. While the SHA says that should initially prevent accumulation on roads, officials there are making sure people know to slow down for slippery conditions.
The SHA will not pre-treat any of its roads with salt brine because above-freezing air temperatures mean the storm will likely start with rain, which would wash away any preventative road treatment. SHA trucks will be put into action if and when the snow starts. Today’s press release claimed more than 360,000 tons of salt stocked up and ready to use this winter.
Last week, Montgomery County Department of Transportation officials gathered at its Bethesda Depot with SHA representatives, contractors and municipal snow plowing crews for its annual “snow summit.” Forecasters are predicting a more snowy than usual winter for the D.C. area.
In the press release, SHA Administrator Melinda Peters said today’s potential first snow of the winter could pose a serious challenge:
Rush hour and snow is a bad combination for commuters and for highway crews. This is central Maryland’s first winter weather this season and although it may be light, the timing couldn’t be worse. SHA crews will treat the roads with salt when it starts snowing but keep in mind, those trucks are in the same traffic on the same roads as commuters and there may be many places where the salt never reaches the road. Pavement temperatures should be warm enough that it doesn’t stick but there are no guarantees. Please give our crews space to treat roadways and plan for a potentially rough commute.