Skip to main content

Snowy winter shrinks road salt supplies in Minnesota

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

This year’s snowier-than-average winter has dwindled road salt supplies in some Minnesota cities.

Almost a week after a winter storm closed schools and snarled traffic, crews continued to clean up slippery streets. With colder temperatures and the possibility of snow in the forecast, it doesn’t seem like there is an end in sight. This has some cities worrying if salt supplies will last through winter.

The Twin Cities average 54-and-a-half inches of snow each winter. So far this season 57 inches have fallen, according to WCCO. That's putting a strain on salt supplies as cities work to keep roads clean.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation has been watching its salt supply closely all winter, confident it will have enough to get to the bitter end – but that all depends on Mother Nature, the Star Tribune reports.

“We have kind of put ourselves on a low-salt diet, because we know we have to get through the winter," Mike Kennedy of Minneapolis Public Works told WCCO.

Officials told the Star Tribune in early February they weren’t running out, but the harsh winter has taken a toll on its inventory and equipment.

“It’s just a bigger winter, and severe low temps are causing us to use more salt than average,” Kennedy told the Star Tribune. “We’re watching our supplies. … We’ll probably be OK, but we’re monitoring and trying to be conservative.”

For St. Paul, the supply of low-temperature salt is dwindling.

“We don’t expect extra cold temperatures this time of year,” St. Paul Mayor Christ Coleman told WCCO.

Washington County Engineer Wayne Sandberg told the Star Tribune, “The next month will be key. … We’ll be watching the short-term and long-term forecasts. But we’re not going to run out. If we have to buy off the open market, we’ll adjust our budget to do so.”

The city of Northfield isn't as confident. Northfield’s Streets and Parks Supervisor T.J. Heinricy said the city has nearly used up its salt supply and has now started mixing salt and sand together – which takes longer to clean up in the spring, Northfield News reports. This week, Heinricy was authorized to buy 100 additional tons of salt (at $100 per ton), but he isn't confident it will be enough to last the winter, the newspaper reports.

The waves of snowstorms throughout the country have exhausted rock salt supplies and cities are turning to sand, which doesn’t melt the snow and ice, according to MPR. The relentless snowstorms have pushed the salt industry to its limits and depleted cities' stockpiles throughout the country.

Lori Roman, the president of the Salt Institute, released a statement on the organization’s website regarding the supply of salt across the nation:

“There isn’t a salt shortage – salt is in abundant supply. However, some of the country is experiencing a more severe winter than normal leaving some municipalities and Departments of Transportation with low inventories. While many agencies try to have enough salt on hand in the fall to get them through an entire winter, recent weather is forcing many to order again mid-season which is not an ideal situation as there is a lead time for delivery.”

Next Up

Reader-submitted video taken of people throwing fireworks at people and cars on July 4, 2022.

Frey: Police faced 'whack-a-mole' situation on chaotic Fourth of July

The mayor says law enforcement resources were being pulled all over the city as violent scenes unfolded.

image

Body recovered from Mississippi River near hydro plant in St. Paul

Authorities say the body appeared to have been in the river for months.

Braxton Sorenson

Charges: Lakeville driver didn't call 911 after fatally striking teen on bicycle

The 15-year-old boy was killed while riding his bike along a route he frequented.

Crystal Lake in Robbinsdale

Body found along shoreline of Crystal Lake

Police identified the body as a male Tuesday afternoon.

ATV

Little Falls man killed in ATV crash over holiday weekend

The 55-year-old apparently lost control and was partially ejected from the vehicle on Sunday.

Ellie Ragin

Police chief reveals new details in 'heartbreaking' search for Elle Ragin

Police reveal new details that led investigators to Stearns County.

Subway Series new menu

Subway overhauling menu, offering 1M free subs on July 12

The "Subway Series" menu change is set to take over beginning July 12.

Reader-submitted video taken of people throwing fireworks at people and cars on July 4, 2022.

Watch: Fireworks fired at people, buildings in downtown Minneapolis

Footage shared widely on social media shows chaotic scenes downtown on Fourth of July evening.

Ellie Ragin

Search for missing Elle Ragin shifts to park in Stearns County

Mississippi River County Park is closed to the public until further notice.

storm, severe weather, derecho

Developing derecho likely to blast southwest Minnesota

Damaging winds up to 90 mph are the main threat.

Screen Shot 2022-07-05 at 12.29.03 PM

Two Minneapolis restaurants announce closures

It's the end of the line for Pie & Mighty and Bunny's Bar & Grill.

Grape Jelly

Someone is sending St. Paul resident unsolicited grape jelly

A resident said they received a large number of deliveries containing only jars of jelly.

Related