Although battling winter elements can be frustrating, the Clay County Highway Department is ready for the arrival of the newest winter weather.
"We do the best that we can," Clay County Highway Department Supervisor Pete Foster told The Brazil Times Monday afternoon. "It takes a lot of time to clear the 700 miles of roads in Clay County."
Clay County contains gravel, chipped and sealed and paved roads, which are all potentially difficult to drive on during bad road conditions.
"Gravel roads, if we can get down to the gravel part during grading, at least has the potential for traction," he said. "Paved roads can be really slick. You just can't get all the way down to the roadway with a grader."
There are certain roads in Clay County that motorists should be extra cautious on during bad weather, including Harmony Road (County Road 200 East), Murphy Avenue/Road, Perth Road (CR 300 W) and Rio Grande Road (CR 1200 N). Foster said these roads "almost always" have drifting problems when snow and wind combine.
"Drivers need to be cautious while driving roads near open fields without a fence row or wind breakers," Foster said. "Any amount of wind in these areas during, or after a snowfall, can create hazardous driving conditions."
Although it is late in the winter season, Foster said the department has enough road supplies for the recent snowfall.
"So far this year we've used approximately 150 tons of salt this season, and that's not counting the sand that's been used," he said. "This late in the season there can be a shortage of salt, but we'll make (what we have) stretch as far as possible. The department still has a pretty good amount of supplies left. I'm sure we have enough salt/sand mixture for this bout of snow."
Waiting to use the salt/sand mixture until after a weather front passes through the county and the weather conditions taper off, is a way, according to Foster, the department can maximize the supplies.
"Otherwise, we would just be out there going over and over the same roads," he said.
When foul weather is predicted for the area, road crews at the department are prepared for the worst.
"Drivers work 12-14 hour shifts, with the other half of the crew resting up to get back out on the roads," Foster said of the preparations to get the eight trucks equipped with plows and sandboxes and two road graders on the road. "It's a 24-hour job, but we've been pretty lucky so far this year."
Foster offers a bit of advise for motorists who have to travel in bad weather conditions.
"Make sure you plan for plenty of extra time to get where you are going and go slow," Foster said. "And please, be careful out there."