Ready or not, here comes snow

Brown County says it has plenty of salt to start the season
Published: Nov. 14, 2022 at 5:38 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Whether you like it or not, it’s time to start preparing for it.

Snow is in the forecast for mid-November. Brown County Highway Commissioner Paul Fontecchio tells us because of the mild weather earlier this month they’ve only brined once so far this season. Now that brine mixture is on area roads.

“It seems like it’s always a hard transition. You go from relatively decent fall days and all of a sudden, winter is here,” Fontecchio said.

With snow showers expected overnight and lasting into Wednesday, the highway commissioner says the seasons shift quickly.

“We always go from trying to get as much construction work done to now we’re plowing, and with the quick changeover, we were paving last week up here.”

It’s a lot of moving parts. About 40 trucks get harnessed with plow blades, and materials are brought in to help prevent ice buildup on roads. The Brown County Highway Department uses salt and brine. This year, salt is not a concern.

“These last couple of years with all of the supply chain stuff there’s been some weird things, weird little hiccups. Thankfully salt hasn’t been one of them yet, so that’s been good.”

Fontecchio says Brown County has about 15,000 tons of salt stockpiled among several sheds in the county. Depending on the season, they use between 20,000 and 25,000 tons. These mild temperatures have Brown County sitting in a nice spot even with seasonal filling. Of course, we’ll find out throughout the season how fast we go through that salt supply.

The plows will travel across the trouble spots with brine, such as roundabouts, bridge decks, and off-ramps, but it’s important for drivers to do their part for safety, too.

Depending on when this weather event hits, if it’s around 2 or 3 in the morning they’ll have their whole team out, which is about 40 plows. If it’s the middle of the night, they’ll cut it down to about 20 plows so they can stagger their crews.

Drivers will want to make sure to give plows plenty of space while they’re working but also be alert for conditions to change.

“Watch for changing conditions, because we’ve been driving for months now on nice, dry pavement and now you’re going to hit that slick spot or a bridge deck and it’s going to be ice. The weather will change all over at once and our plows take an hour and a half to make a complete cycle. The roads will change very quickly. It’s just something to watch,” Fontecchio said.

You always want to make sure you have the winter weather necessities in your car, just in case. Have a window scraper to clear your vehicle of ice and snow before you hit the road. Have a phone charger in case you get stuck.

Wisconsin Emergency Management recommends having these in your car in case of an emergency:

  • Cell phone car charger
  • Bottled drinking water
  • Non-perishable food that requires no cooking
  • Duct tape
  • First aid kit with a pocketknife
  • Shovel & windshield scraper
  • Matches
  • Blankets, extra hats, socks, and mittens
  • Booster cables & tow chain or rope
  • Sand or cat litter
  • Emergency flares
  • Fluorescent distress flag
  • Flashlights & extra batteries
  • Battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio and a commercial radio
  • Extra medications and baby items
  • Pet food/shelter
  • Power banks for cell phone charging

The Brown County highway patrol will be out overnight to monitor conditions, and we will, too. You can always track weather and road conditions on WBAY-TV and on our First Alert Weather app for iOS and Android devices.

Highway crews are getting ready. Drivers should, too.