Winter prep started months ago for DOH

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Crews with the Division of Highways are ready for the impending winter storm that is expected to impact West Virginia this week.

Winter preparations actually began in September. Plow drivers conducted dry runs to identify potential challenges before the snow removal season began. Workers also reviewed the priority system used to determine which routes are cleared first and other procedures and protocols in place to clear roads as efficiently as possible.

“Get together with each one of the organizations, we call it a safety meeting because it is a safety meeting,” DOH Interim District 4 Engineer Mike Daley said.

“We prepare and talk about situations they could run into and things they need to be aware of.”

The DOH relies on the National Weather Service and weather stations throughout the state but when a winter storm is declared status meetings involving weather officials, the DOH, and the governor’s office are held every 24 hours.

“We normally monitor about six different weather stations as well as following up to see what the status is going to be and what the estimates are,” Daley said.

Drivers and mechanics remain at the ready when the possibility of winter precipitation is imminent, no matter the amount of snow or ice in the forecast.

“Sometimes they’re not always exact, but we have our folks ready to go on location,” Daley said.

Because timing is so critical in snow removal operations crew flexibility is required in order to provide the best conditions possible. Salt barns are strategically located throughout each DOH district with thousands of tons of salt available to keep plow trucks as close to work areas as possible.

“We run in two, 12-hour shifts and it just varies,” Daley said. “Some start at 6 a.m. or 6 p.m. others from noon to midnight just due to the average daily travel that way have to try to assist the traveling public.”

Earlier this week, Gov. Jim Justice issued a State of Preparedness ahead of a winter storm that is expected to bring frigid temperatures and could create hazardous travel conditions Friday morning.

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