CHARLOTTEBrightly colored leaves, not ice, collected on the ground as NCDOT crews hoisted snow plows onto their trucks.
There was no winter weather in the forecast on that 60-degree day in late October, but the Department's Mecklenburg County maintenance yard was abuzz with activity as if a blizzard was moving in.
The prep work is part of a "dry run," where crews familiarize themselves with their snow routes and make sure all equipment is functioning properly. Each county within NCDOT's Division 10 (Anson, Cabarrus, Mecklenburg, Stanly and Union counties) has its own dry run, and all this happens before the first flake ever falls.
"We do this now so we can work out any issuesbefore the bad weather comes," said Brian Davis, SeniorMecklenburg County Maintenance Engineer. "When it's 3 a.m. and 15degrees outside, you want operationsto go as smoothly as possible."
NCDOT's snow and ice clearing equipment includes more than 1,900 trucks equipped with plows and spreaders, 325 front-end loaders and backhoes and 450 motor graders statewide.
With so many pieces of equipment, it's crucial to ensure each one is operating correctly and efficiently. That way, when the storm hits, the trucks, plows and spreaders are ready to go.Also during the dry run, crews assess quantities of salt, sand and calcium, which are all essentials during snow and ice removal.
After the equipment is tested, NCDOT crews take to the roads and drive their snow-removal routes. Roads and surroundings can look vastly different when covered in snow and ice, so it's important for crews to familiarize themselves with their routes in advance of winter weather.
More information about NCDOT's winter weather protocol, including snow and ice removal procedures and safety tips, can be foundhere.
For real-time travel information, call 511, visit theTraveler Services sectionof NCDOT.gov or follow NCDOT onTwitter.