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9/21/2015 Dan Ellington | Category: Industry News | 2434 Views | 0 Comments |

Preparing For Winter

  • Schedule training for you, your crew and customer.
  • Discuss the maintenance policy with your crew.
  • Include site monitoring in the policy.
  • Document any closed building entrances during the winter.
  • Address customer expectations, the hours, and use of the building, priority access points, and environmental concerns in your policy.
  • Inform your customers of any changes to your snow and ice maintenance program, and if so why you are making them.

*Reduce your risk by having a solid written winter maintenance policy and training program that utilizes best management practices.


Pavement Temperature

You must know the pavement temperature to determine the proper amount and type of material to apply. Most weather stations report air temperature measured at a height of 30 feet above ground, which can differ from pavement temperatures. There is not a direct correlation between air temperature and pavement temperature. Pavement temperatures differ from sunny to shaded areas and concrete to asphalt surfaces. Similar surfaces constructed over different base materials hold temperatures differently. Seasonal differences also occur. The same air temperature in November and January will often show very different pavement temperatures. Why guess. You can purchase hand-held temperature sensors from auto part stores for about $100. They are designed to measure engine temperature. Make Sure the one you buy has the appropriate temperature range and accuracy for cold weather work.



Calibration is an essential procedure to measure the amount of material applied. No matter how sophisticated or simple your operations, always calibrate each piece of equipment yearly. The trend is to use less material. Purchase equipment that has the capability to deliver low application rates. You can calibrate any type of equipment. Just find a way to determine how many pounds of material per minute is landing on the pavement or sidewalk over a measured area or distance, and for differing speeds. If you cannot or choose not to calibrate your equipment, you will need to calculate the size of the parking lot, the surface temperatures, and the material you are using. The application rate chart and these three All good programs are based on calibration of equipment. 10 parameters will tell you how many pounds of deicer to apply. Without calibration, it will be up to you to find a way to evenly distribute the recommended amount across your parking lot.

  • Because spreaders vary, calibrate each truck.
  • Calibrate separately for every type of material you use.
  • If you don’t have different settings, you can change your application rate by adjusting the gate opening and truck speed.
  • Place the calibration results, for each setting, in your truck.
  • For specific calibration directions, contact the manufacturer.

Cost and Availability

Sodium Chloride (Road Salt) is typically the cheapest and easiest to find of the deicers. Because of this, it is widely used and overused. Sodium Chloride is only effective at pavement temperatures above 15 degrees. Because it doesn’t work well at colder temperatures, it is often over applied in attempts to get it to work better. At temperatures lower than 15 degrees, switch to a different deicer.

Non-chloride deicers are more difficult to find and often cost more. If you are concerned about the long-term effects of chlorides on our lakes and rivers, take time to find a source for alternate products and try them. As the demand for non-chloride deicers increases, the cost will drop and the products will be easier to find. All deicers have environmental impacts but the impacts of chloride-based deicers are very long term.

Salt and sand mixes are commonly used to stretch the salt budget. This is an ineffective practice. Salt and sand work against each other. To save money use deicers when you need to melt and sand when you need temporary traction. Mixing them decreases the effectiveness of both products and increases the cost.


Sidewalk Tips

  • Always remove snow prior to applying deicers. If you plow first, the chances of refreeze diminish and slush build-up is minimized.
  • Sidewalks are often the most over-salted of all areas in winter maintenance.
  • Sidewalks are the area of highest tracking into the building. Extra salt and sand contribute to slippery entryways inside the building.
  • Use drop spreaders, not rotary spreaders, for sidewalks. If you are using a rotary spreader, adjust the opening to limit dispersion of deicers to the sidewalk or install shields to restrict the spread pattern. This minimizes your application rate and protects the vegetation.
  • Many slip and fall incidents occur within ten feet of the curb lines. Adjust practices to include proactive measures like anti-icing.
  • If you are not responsible for sidewalk maintenance, consider providing this information to the building occupants to educate them on these best practices for winter maintenance.
  • Look for opportunities to close extra entrances during the winter to reduce the need to use chemicals on all sidewalks and steps.
  • Focus on aggressive mechanical removal of snow. The less snow, the less deicer required. This will lend to a safer walking surface.
  • Deicers can harm heated sidewalks.
  • Products such as heated or textured mats, placed on sidewalks or steps, may work for small problem areas. Test these, as you would, any new product or deicer.
  • Salt only needs to melt 1/16 inch to prevent the bond between the pavement and the ice. Save money by applying salt before the ice bonds so you don’t need to melt through it.

Snow Removal Basics

All application rates are based on thoroughly plowed surfaces.

  • Plow first before applying deicers to avoid dilution of the salt.
  • Place deicers in high traffic areas as you plow. Leave other areas until plowing is complete.
  • Limit use of salt and sand during the storm; use only to reduce bonding.
  • Do not use salt to burn off snow.
  • Use application rate chart.
  • Understand the melting properties of your deicers. Do not use them unless you understand how they work.
  • Plan and look for ways to anti-ice or use wetted materials.
  • Check conditions and formulate the best strategy for those conditions.
  • Don’t apply dry salt (sodium chloride) below 15º F pavement temperature. It will not melt fast enough to help and it will blow off the surface onto nearby vegetation.
  • Below 15º F, use a salt wetted with magnesium or calcium chloride or other low temperature deicers. For extreme cold, skip melting and use sand.
  • Turn off auger when stopped, even briefly.
  • Clean up spills.
  • Track material use and effectiveness with an in-cab deicing data form.
  • Use only what is needed based on proper application rates for the conditions. Put extra back in salt pile.
  • Never plow or blow snow into bodies of water, wetlands, traffic or into streets.
  • Remove snow from surfaces as quickly as possible to reduce compaction. Plow during off-peak hours or prior to the facility opening to increase efficiency and reduce conflicts with vehicles and pedestrians.
  • Minimize back-up maneuvers to reduce chance of accidents.


A proactive approach—should be first in a series of strategies for each winter storm. By applying a small and strategic amount of liquid or pre-wet deicer before a storm, you can prevent snow and ice from bonding to the pavement.

Anti-icing is like preparing a frying pan. If you add a small amount of a liquid before cooking, the food will not bond to the pan. This reduces the amount of soap needed; scrubbing and time spent trying to clean the pan. Anti-icing requires about ¼ the material and 1/10 the overall cost of deicing. It can increase safety at the lowest cost, and is effective and cost-efficient when correctly used and approached with realistic expectations.

Anti-icing prevents formation of ice from frost. It can be effective for up to several days depending on the weather conditions. Anti-icing is quick. You can treat your parking lot in a matter of minutes. It is an excellent strategy for saving time. Charging by the hour is not a desired practice when you move into anti-icing.

Get started in anti-icing the basic equipment you will need includes: Pavement temperature sensor, storage tank, spray truck system, transfer pump, hoses, and fittings.

Guidelines for anti-icing

Liquids are the more efficient than solids and may be applied days in advance of an event.

• It is better to use less than more. Over-application can cause slippery conditions.

• Anti-icing is often effective for heavy frosts.

• Liquids are dispersed by the traffic. If you spray the traffic lanes, liquid will migrate with the tires to the parking areas.

• Some users advise against spraying the service road in front of buildings and instead spray traffic lanes and back service roads to allow the traffic to spread the liquids near the building where foot traffic is higher. This can reduce tracking into the building and over-application in a high-traffic area.

• For service roads on hills, some users recommend applying to only the top half of the hill, relying on traffic to carry it down the hill, to avoid a slippery situation at the bottom of the hill.

• Anti-icing works best when combined with accurate surface weather information.

• Early application is particularly important for frost or light freezing drizzle.

• Pretreated or prewet materials are not as efficient as liquids for anti-icing; you need more material and they don’t track as well. They will work if applied at very low application rates immediately before the snow event.


This winter will be impacted by a moderate/strong to Super El Nino and the track of the Southern jet stream will be the key to how much snow falls in your area. We are using the winters of 1982-83, 1997-98 and 2009-2010 as analogs for our outlooks combined with the trending of three other factors...the NAO, PDO, and MJO.

Typically, those signals can be weak during a strong El Nino winter but they are strong and trending that way into the fall. The El Nino index may peak out in December and begin to drop off to a moderate El Nino by later January into March making this a Hybrid El Nino Winter Season? What does that mean for your winter outlook?


  • Slow Start to winter
  • Temps above average
  • More Rain events not snow


  • Starts off slow but snow/ice late
  • Temps near to above average
  • Snow and ice slightly below average


  • The snowiest month of winter
  • Snow and Ice NEAR AVERAGE
  • 1-2 snowstorms likely

Overall Summary for Chicagoland area

  • Buy -10%-25% BELOW average salt usage
  • Plowing snow will be 15% to 25% BELOW average



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