MDOT ready for storm as city declares snow emergency

Piles of salt sit inside the Michigan Department of Transportation's maintenance garage on M-43 in Oshtemo Township ahead of a snowstorm. (Feb. 8, 2018)


KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Marshall is declaring a snow emergency, ahead of a winter storm expected to hit much of West Michigan.

The declaration means drivers cannot park on city streets between 9 p.m. Thursday and 6 a.m. Saturday. Vehicles owners who ignore the order could be ticketed and towed.

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Meanwhile, the Michigan Department of Transportation is treating the storm like any other day at the office.

“You know, it’s just another snow event,” said MDOT spokesman Nick Schirripa.

Shirripa says any plows out Thursday were not related to the upcoming storm; drivers were busy running their normal schedules.

“Some of our trucks are already out in places and others are just ready to go as soon as snow starts accumulating on roads,” he assured.

While road crews sometimes pretreat roads with liquid sodium chloride before a big snow event to prevent snow from sticking to the pavement, Shirripa said that was not being done Thursday.

“The pavement has to be dry, and it’s just been too wet,” he explained. “Anything we put down will just wash away before the snow actually got here.”

Instead, snow plow drivers will start working 12-hour shifts once the snow begins accumulating.

“There’s a lot of technology involved that gives us a lot of weather information, road surface temperature information, traffic volume information, traffic speed information, so some of that kind of (data) helps calculate or factor into when we go out,” he added.

Schirripa says plows will put down salt treated with a chemical that helps it stick to the road and perform better in lower temperatures.

“Usually, about 20, 19 degrees is when really start to see the efficiency and effectiveness of salt really start to drop off, and that boost buys it a couple more degrees there,” he said.

Storm Team 8 will be tracking the storm as it rolls in Thursday night into Friday morning. Tune into 24 Hour News 8 for weather and traffic reports throughout the day, or download the free Storm Team 8 app for continuous updates.