Delaware News

Winter's on its way, but Delaware has bases covered


Delaware residents have enjoyed some mild days this December, but city officials say they're ready to tackle snow and ice as soon as it arrives.

Community Affairs Coordinator Lee Yoakum said the city's salt stores are well-supplied, and its trucks and plows are in good condition to take on winter storms.

"We're in good shape and ready -- not for if winter comes but for when winter comes," Yoakum said.

The city currently has about 800 tons of regular rock salt in storage, and about 350 tons of a salt-stone grit mixture.

Yoakum said the latter is used to give roads additional traction when temperatures dip below 20 degrees and normal salt is less effective.

Some of the city's current salt supply is left over from the mild 2011-12 winter, which brought unusually warm temperatures, little snow and big savings for the city.

Last winter, the city used just 783 tons of salt. About twice that much -- roughly 1,600 tons -- is expended in a typical year.

By contrast, the city used much more salt than usual -- about 2,100 tons -- during the harsh 2010-11 winter.

"In back-to-back years, we had our highest usage in 10 years, and then our lowest usage in 10 years," Yoakum said.

Officials plan to pad the salt stores in January with an additional purchase of about 500 to 700 tons, depending on the weather. Salt generally is purchased just once per year.

"It will be enough to make sure we can get through the season and then have enough left over to take care of anything that comes up at the end of 2013," Yoakum said.

Currently, the city's fleet includes 10 two-ton dump trucks that are used for plowing, salting and hauling in the winter months.

Other vehicles and equipment, including smaller trucks, backhoes and snow blowers, are ready to provide backup support.

Officials also have budgeted for the purchase of a new two-ton dump truck in 2013.

The city of Delaware is responsible for snow and ice removal on about 360 lane miles of roadway. Plowing generally begins after three inches of snow have accumulated. Prior to that, salting is the focus.

State highways, emergency routes, arterial roads and streets with dangerous hills or curves get top priority for road maintenance during and after winter storms.

School zones and connector roads get second priority, and neighborhoods generally are plowed last.