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DC Snow Team to Pre-Treat Roads with Liquid Brine Ahead of Saturday’s Wintry Mix

Friday, February 16, 2018

(WASHINGTON, DC) – The DC Snow Team will be pretreating the District’s primary, secondary and National Highway System routes this evening starting at 8 p.m. with anti-icing liquid brine in advance of Saturday’s forecasted blend of snow, freezing rain, and sleet. The National Weather Service is forecasting a wintry mix that will begin Saturday afternoon and last late into the evening. In addition to the pre-storm anti-icing operation, the DC Snow Team will be monitoring the storm throughout the weekend and is prepared to treat roads with rock salt should it be necessary. Residents and motorists can register to receive important weather alerts from the District on their devices by signing up for AlertDC at

Starting pre-treatment early allows our crews to get ahead of this storm to ensure that the District’s roads are safe for motorists throughout the holiday weekend,” said DPW Director Chris Shorter.

This winter season the DC Snow Team has ramped up its use of brine as an anti-icing technique. Liquid brine, which is made up of water, salt, and beet juice, helps keep snow and ice from bonding to the pavement and reduces the amount of time needed to remove snow from streets. Brine has also been shown to decrease the corrosion of infrastructure and helps to minimize the impact on local water bodies.

In addition to using more brine, another way the DC Snow Team is working to decrease its salt use is by enhancing the calibration training provided to salt truck drivers and supervisors. When salt trucks are properly calibrated, drivers can adjust the application rate depending on the type of storm. This ensures that our salt trucks are not unnecessarily applying extra salt to our city’s streets. In terms of an overall trend, the District is using less salt; although yearly totals may fluctuate depending on the number and severity of storms.

The Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) is also part of the District’s Snow Team, providing input and assistance on preventing and minimizing environmental impacts of routine snow and ice removal operations.

The District needs to weigh safety concerns with environmental concerns when working to keep our roads and sidewalks clear of ice,” said DOEE Director Tommy Wells. “Every year snow plow operators get a stormwater pollution prevention training that includes how to minimize salt usage. We want to make sure our plow and salt dome operators understand how they can help safeguard Rock Creek and the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers. DOEE is actively working with the District’s Snow Team to implement policies and practices that reduce the need for deicers and minimize the impact of deicers on the environment.

To prepare for the overnight wintry mix and morning commute, residents are encouraged to heed the following tips:

  • Take Metro as an alternative to driving.
  • If driving, do so cautiously and maintain safe speeds and distances from other vehicles.
  • Keep a safe distance from emergency and snow vehicles and use caution when attempting to pass a snowplow. Give the drivers plenty of room to safely do their jobs.
  • Be aware of hazardous road conditions, particularly black ice which can be deceptive in appearance and give the driver a false sense of security on the road.
  • Drive and walk carefully on bridges, ramps and other elevated structures which can freeze before the roadway.
  • Cyclists should use caution and avoid biking directly on snow or ice.

The District’s Snow Team is committed to a quick completion of plowing and salting along major roads and residential streets, which in turn means a faster return to normal traffic flow and earlier resumption of trash collection and other city services. Residents concerned about the treatment or plowing of specific roads should call the Citywide Call Center by dialing 311. For more information about DC’s snow program and preparing for winter weather, or to see where District Snow Team plows are working, go to