How beet juice is helping road crews prepare for coming severe weather

Road crews throughout the region are preparing for a potentially treacherous coating of ice and layer of snow that could impact power lines and make driving hazardous in the coming days.

A Winter Storm Watch is in effect from 7 a.m. Friday until 10 a.m. Saturday.

» Winter storm timeline: When the storm will hit where you live

Snow accumulations of 2-4 inches are expected across the region with some areas receiving up to 4-6 inches through Friday evening. Winds could be gusty at times Friday night with overnight lows dropping to 15. The snow is expected to quickly taper off Saturday morning, said Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist Eric Elwell.

The ground – warmed by record-setting temperatures Wednesday and Thursday – may keep snow accumulations down, but the melt may result in more problems with ice as temperatures dip, he said.

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In Warren County, Engineer Neil Tunison said workers have been busy cleaning the trucks in front of the storm. He said trucks run 17 routes and cover 580 lane miles in the county.

Tunison said unlike other agencies, Warren County doesn’t pretreat its streets but rather adds beet juice and four chlorides to its salt. This process, he said, “activates” the salt quicker and lowers the melting point down to 5 degrees.

Workers also are checking area roads for potential standing water that may freeze, he said.

Tunison said the county has used 2,000 tons so far this winter, mainly because of the number of ice storms. He said the county has 2,000 tons of salt available and more has been ordered.

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