Snow plow drivers working on borrowed time

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Snow plow drivers are fighting the clock, trying to clear Tuesday's snow before it turns to ice.

Their job is critical as schools try to open on time Thursday morning and not add their names to the growing list of cancellations.

Before the big chill sets in, every second counts if you're behind the wheel of a plow.

"Time's an essence with snow removal. You want to be out there to try to catch about every flake," said Alan Whitaker with ARW Trucking Incorporated, a subcontractor for Brickman.

That's what Whitaker was trying to do on the streets of Meridian Hills Wednesday afternoon, before the temperature dropped below zero.

"We're just trying to plow and get down through an ice pack and get some salt down on top of it," said Whitaker.

If the roads don't get cleared before a freeze sets in, you get a sheet of ice on roads.

"It's as hard as steel, to be honest with you," said Whitaker.

With the ice that hard, the salt won't work on it, once it gets too cold.

"When the temperature reaches zero, the salt would be null and void on working," explained Whitaker.

With a salt shortage, too, every grain counts.

"So every time you can scrape the ground and get bare asphalt on concrete, that's just one less grain of salt you're saving," said Whitaker.

With so much snow falling this winter, Whitaker said its been hard to stay ahead of it.
Whitaker and other drivers have had to, though, so the people who live along the streets they plow, can get where they need to be.

"Mother Nature's going to win," said Whitaker. "If she's going to dump a bunch of snow on you, you're just going to do what you're going to do and go from there."

If the snow keeps coming though or it drifts, there's only so much room on streets to pile it.

"You can only compress snow so much," said Whitaker.

If it keeps snowing, though, there's more plowing to be done, more salt to drop, until Mother Nature decides to step in with warmer temperatures to help out.