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How the warm weather helped county road commissions in December

Posted at 5:40 AM, Jan 05, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-05 06:55:39-05

Motor Nature has given a bit of a break from winter so far this year, with an unseasonably warm December with basically no snow.

It was the third-warmest December on record and the second-least snowiest on record.

While the warmer-than-usual winter weather has been hurting some industries like snow plowing and ski resorts, it's been helping local road departments.

Road crews have not only been able to complete more work in our area, but they've also been able to save money on supplies like salt.

Gregory Das Gupta is just one of many drivers who have enjoyed the warm winter.

“I’m glad I don’t have to warm my car up and cut the heat up," he said.

“On the roads it has been helpful because I don’t have to deal with the ice and the crazy drivers," Sharon Oliver-Merchant said.

Craig Bryson, the senior communications manager for the Road Commission for Oakland County, said the warm weather has helped them.

He said the lack of snow and ice means saving on salt.

“We’ve used about half as much salt so far this year as in the last two winters," he said.

Workers have also been able to get more work done, like routine maintenance and fixing the dreaded potholes.

“We were able to continue to patch potholes with hot mix pothole mix, which is the mix we use in the summer. Much better, more durable than the cold mix we use in the winter," Bryson said.

I also checked in with Macomb and Wayne counties as well.

In Macomb County, they've only been dispatched to salt roads three times and have used less than 2,000 tons.

To put that in perspective, on average, the department uses more than 50,000 tons of salt each winter.

Not to mention they were able to extend construction season into December and wrap up big projects on Mound, Garfield and 23 Mile.

In Wayne County, they've also used less salt, but they warn it's too soon to determine how the rest of the snow and ice season will play out.

"I wouldn’t be surprised if in January and February we get a lot of snow, not at all, but that is Michigan weather though," Oliver-Merchant said.

Every inch of rain is roughly 10 inches of snow if it were colder, so if we did have low temps last month, we could have seen as much as 30 inches of snow.