SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Some freezing rain is in the forecast for a portion of South Dakota, and the DOT is preparing.
KELOLAND Meteorologist Adam Rutt tells us that the best chances for the freezing rain will be near and southeast of Sioux Falls beginning early on the morning of November 29, though cold air is expected to quickly turn the precipitation to snow as the day progresses.
In terms of the affected area, Rutt says that people living north and west of a line drawn from Brookings down to Mitchell and over to Winner should see little in the way of precipitation from this.
Harry Johnston is the Sioux Falls Area Engineer for the South Dakota DOT. He says that the DOT is actively preparing for the morning’s weather.
To treat the roads, Johnston says the Sioux Falls Area DOT primarily uses salt brine.
“We make all our own salt brine here in Sioux Falls,” Johnston said. “We use straight salt, and then we pre-wet our salt with the salt brine.”
The salt brine is a liquid applied to the road, which begins working almost immediately. Johnston says that this solution allows the DOT to pre-treat roadways. The brine, he explained, acts by keeping the moisture from sticking to the roadway, giving the DOT a better chance of being able to plow off the ice and snow, and in some cases keeping it from icing up in the first place.
When the freezing rain and snow begin in the morning, Johnston says the Sioux Falls DOT will have 10-15 plows out on the roads. Overall, he says they have the capability to have up to 25 plows on the roads at one time.
The limited number of plows out in the morning will be due to the size of the event, coupled with the need to train new drivers in the early part of the season. “We’ve got a lot of new employees we’re going to be training — it all kind of depends on the storm and what we respond to from there,” said Johnston.
The Sioux Falls DOT can store up to 10,000 tons of salt at its facility. Johnston says on a bad year, they can churn through that entire stockpile. Last year, he says they didn’t come anywhere close to that. “We can make up to a million gallons of salt brine in a year,” he added.
The jurisdiction of the South Dakota DOT is state highways and interstates, while counties and municipalities cover other roadways.
The City of Sioux Falls has a snow information page, providing people with info on things such as when they must move their cars, when sidewalks must be cleared, plowing schedules and a snow progress tracker.
To drivers, Johnston has the following advice: “Look at your forecast before you go to bed. Plan ahead. Get up a half hour early and give yourself more time time to get to work or wherever you’re going that day and don’t crowd the plow,” he said. “Give yourself plenty of room. Those guys are out there doing the best that they can to make sure they get you to your destination safely.”