Glynis Board Published

Subzero Temps Make For Slow Snow Removal


It looks like winter won’t let up this month and that’s making snow removal more difficult than usual. A dangerous and frustrating combination of factors is leaving many to brave perilous road conditions.

Department of Highways District Manager Greg Phillips says the worst combination of factors is making traveling anywhere a dangerous ordeal. His district includes Monongalia County which, for example, has 1,000 miles of roads that need to be cleared.

“We do plow both sides of the road so that’s 2,000 road miles that we have to cover, and that’s like plowing from Morgantown to the tip of the Keys in Florida.” Phillips says. “It takes a long time to do that. So it’s going to take us two or three days to get all the snow cleaned up.”

Phillips explains that the subzero temperatures stop the salt mix on the road from being effective so the plows can only work to try to get the snow off the roads.

“When it gets that cold and the mix doesn’t work and then it continues to snow, so you’re just plowing your mix off as you put it down. In some instances that’s why the roads don’t come as clear.”

Phillips says recent snowstorms at 4 and 5 o’clock in the morning as well as traffic also contributes to slow snow removal. In Morgantown especially, with its university influx population of people who may not be used to the conditions, heavy traffic, and accidents makes snow removal even more difficult.

Phillips says recent school closings have had more to do with being especially protective of students who need to wait outside for busses in dangerously low temperatures.

“An individual can freeze to death in just a short period of time when it’s 12 and 15 degrees below zero—and that’s what we’ve had with the wind chill. We just can’t allow the students to have to be out there with some parents have to go to work and students have to walk down to catch a bus. That’s a call the superintendents of each county have to make.”

Phillips says it’s especially dangerous for kids waiting on the side of the roads for busses when there is snow on the roads.