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Outdoor Workers- and Highway Crews - Deal with Brutal Cold



From The National Weather Service:
 
Prolonged exposure outdoors with wind chill values this low may cause frostbite and or hypothermia. precautionary/preparedness actions. A wind chill advisory is issued when strong wind will combine with cold temperatures to create dangerously cold conditions for exposed skin.

The wind will make it feel like it is 15 degrees below zero or colder for a period of several hours. If you will be outdoors use common sense and dress warmly,  making sure that all exposed skin is covered.  If possible,  avoid prolonged exposure to the cold to prevent frostbite and hypothermia.

READ THE WIND CHILL ADVISORY
 HERE  

Does it ever get so cold, that salt just won't melt the ice on WNY Roads?

 
Plain salt is largely ineffective below 16 degrees. Additives can keep it working in temperatures as low as minus 25.

"It depends on whether you are just using straight rock salt.. or whether you are mixing it with other chemicals,"  -Tom Pericak, WNY District Dir., NYS Thruway
 
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP/WBEN) — A splash of beet juice, a dollop of molasses, a squeeze of cheese brine. In the coldest weather, the recipe for safer roads often goes beyond the usual sprinkling of salt.

 

Across the nation's snow belt, transportation officials are in the market for cheap and environmentally friendly ways to make rock salt work better by keeping it on the roads longer and melting ice at lower temperatures.

"This winter, it's been a godsend to be able to do that," said Leland Smithson, the ice and snow expert at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. "It's been so cold."

The New York State Thruway Authority began a pilot program three years ago using another waste item — sugar beet juice from the sugar refining process. Scientifically speaking, carbohydrates in the beet juice help prevent ice from bonding to the road.

  crow8Imagine what it's like if you have to work outside in this frigid, bitter, weather

Project superintendent Ryan Porapat has approx. 100  workers high in the air, on girders above the Harbor Center development downtown taking precautions.

"We have quite a few tool box talks...even throughout the course of the project, even in warmer weather, we have a lot of things that are safety related," he says

"We have warming areas for the guys... working just the standard 8 hours, making sure we are getting them as many beaks as we can," Porapat adds.
   
 

Meanwhile.... Elsewhere in the US:
AP PhotoCheck Airport Delays

(AP) Snow blowers whirred and shovels scraped across sidewalks on Wednesday as the Northeast tried to keep up with a winter storm that swirled up the coast, creating blizzard conditions on Cape Cod, disrupting government work in Washington and leaving behind bitter cold that sapped fuel supplies.

The huge storm stretched from Kentucky to New England but hit hardest along the heavily populated Interstate 95 corridor between Philadelphia and Boston. Snow began falling at midmorning Tuesday in Philadelphia and dumped as much as 14 inches by Wednesday morning, with New York seeing almost as much. Manalapan, N.J., had the highest snowfall reading with nearly 16 inches.

The storm, which dropped more than a foot of snow in parts of Massachusetts, largely spared Boston and areas to the west and north of the city. But it was slow-going on roads elsewhere including New Jersey, where a speed restriction was issued for the turnpike, and the New York metropolitan area, where authorities cautioned motorists about black ice. Commuters in Philadelphia and New York had packed early trains or spent hours inching along roads in swirling darkness to get home the night before

Used to pre-treat both the road and salt, the mixture of 80 percent brine and 20 percent beet juice also keeps the salt from scattering as much. That reduces by about 30 percent the amount of salt needed, officials said, which in turn cuts corrosion on vehicles, roads and vegetation.

This winter, crews plan to use 100,000 gallons of the beet-brine mixture on the 570-mile Thruway system. And officials promise the brownish mixture (no, it's not beet red) won't stain the roads.

Clarence Highway Superintendent James Dussing tells WBEN his town has tried the molasses mix, but for him, it doesn't hit the sweet spot.

"In recent years we have used molasses, but we find it creates a whole seperate set of problems.. Really the most effective thing you can use is straight salt and be smart about the way you use it," Dussing says.

Adds Wales 's Michael Zywar: "we have used molasses, but it's just so expensive for a small town. We use road grit. We mix it one to one with salt, so at least if the salt doesn't work we have grit to give you some traction."

In Milwaukee, road crews are experimenting with plentiful cheese brine, a leftover from cheese making. New York and Pennsylvania are among states trying sugar beet juice, while molasses and potato juice are flavoring roads elsewhere.

"It's all about availability," said association spokesman Tony Dorsey. "States are using whatever they can find that works, especially in low temperatures."

Many of the food derivatives are in commercially marketed products with names such as Ice Bite and Magic Salt, but in Milwaukee, transportation officials are mixing their own brew. As part of a pilot program, the city's fleet operations manager, Jeffrey Tews, has sent trucks to some of Wisconsin's 140 cheese plants to pick up brine, which is used to pre-wet the roads and rock salt. (Mozzarella and provolone have the best salt content.)

City officials are looking at whether the brine, free except for transportation costs, can replace the 70-cents-a-gallon liquid calcium chloride now used as a pre-treater and melting enhancer. In addition to wetting the salt, making it stay on the roads better, the brine is believed to lower the temperature at which the salt works.

The brine's got a bit of a cheesy smell up close, Tews says, but in the few times it's been used, no one has complained.

"Molasses or beet juice, these materials are all very thick and they allow the liquid brine to stick to the salt without activating the salt," said Rob English, president of Chemical Solutions Inc. of Franklin, Mass., which produces ice melting products including molasses-containing Magic Salt.

Smithson said additives have been used for about 10 years and predicted more on the horizon as chemists experiment with whatever is available.

Wastewater from hydraulic fracturing, technology used to drill for natural gas using high volumes of fluid, is among substances being looked at, he said, though it's not believed to be in use anywhere.


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