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Cold Temperatures Allow Salt Trucks an Early Start

It wasn't freezing rain, sleet, or anything else other than snow. And because it was so cold, it wasn't going to be anything but cold.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) It began before sunrise.

With a low in the teens, there was just enough cold air, moisture and energy to get some light snowfall that continued through the morning hours.

As the sun crept up, more drivers decided to brave conditions. And an hour after sunrise, the morning commute was in full swing.

"I've got some steep hills that I do, but it's not really all that bad, just a dusting right now," said Jeremy Jacobsen, a Missouri Western student who says he has about a three-mile commute each morning.

Jacobsen says despite the conditions, he's seen way worse.

"It's a little slick, but if you're smart with the way you drive, it's really not that bad out there," he said.

It's because temperatures have been so cold through the morning that the snow has a different consistency. 

It's been very light, fluffy and dry. It kind of falls apart, and you can't really make a snowball out of it. 

And it's because of temperatures like this - 10 or more degrees below freezing - that the Streets Department says they can start salting the roads first thing in the morning.

The city trucks were visible even in the early morning hours.

With temperatures in the teens and low 20s, there was no threat of rain or freezing rain - it was all snow.

"[When it's warmer,] the problem you run into, is if you get salt down on the streets and there's rain on them, it can possibly wash the salt back off and wash the chemicals off the salt, dilute the salt," said Keven Schneider, assistant superintendent of streets and sewers for the City of St. Joseph.  "So you have to watch both sides."

So as the salt and brine work their magic, conditions get a little wet and slushy.

"The salt is starting to melt; that's one of the first signs it's starting to work.  It just keeps growing from there," Schneider said.

School was not cancelled in St. Joseph.  Buses ran all morning and all afternoon.

But even though it wasn't that bad, it was still slick.

So it's still important to drive slowly, and drive carefully.
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