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Rush Hour Snowfall May Create Safety Issues for Friday Evening Commute

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for the Germantown area and all of Montgomery County from 6:00 pm until midnight tonight, Friday, Feb. 12.

The Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration is warning motorists of the potential for snow squalls to arrive just in time for the Friday evening commute. Any precipitation that coincides with rush hour periods is extremely hazardous since plow/salt trucks are unable to treat pavements in the midst of heavy traffic, said the SHA.

MCDOT has begun pretreating the 1,000 miles of primary emergency routes in Montgomery County as needed, according to Josh Faust of the Division of Highway Services. “We won’t be pre-treating neighborhoods because would be an additional 5,000 miles of roads,” said Faust.

The SHA is evaluating the forecast to determine if salt brine application today will be effective. If so, crews will quickly mobilize to pre-treat pavements unless salt residue from previous applications will provide the same benefit as brine.

“Storms that impact rush hour are the most challenging because our crews are deployed but are often stuck in congestion with other motorists,” said SHA Administrator Gregory Johnson, P.E. “We urge citizens to keep an eye on the forecast and adjust driving times to avoid being caught in a snow squall in rush hour periods – a combination that can lead to icy roads and hours and hours of delay for everyone.”

SHA is also keeping an eye on the weekend forecast for possible precipitation expected Monday, as should drivers. Crews may not be able to apply salt brine to roadways this weekend due to rapidly dropping air and pavement temperatures that will impact pre-treatment effectiveness or even cause it to freeze on contact.

Photo by Germantown Pulse.


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