AUSTIN (KXAN) — With the possibility of a wintry mix of weather Sunday, Texas Department of Transportation crews are out at major thoroughfares Friday around Austin trying to keep ice from forming on the roads.
TxDOT officials said crews will spray the salt brine mixture used for pretreating roads on big traffic veins throughout the city like Interstate 35, U.S. 183, MoPac Expressway, Loop 360 and U.S. 130 as examples.
They remind drivers to keep a safe distance from crews as they complete the work throughout the day.
TxDOT had crews out pretreating roads as the threat of winter weather existed New Year’s Eve. While Austin proper didn’t get ice or snow out of that storm, many places in the Hill Country received winter precipitation in the form of snow and/or ice.
Our Weather and Traffic show, which airs from 7-9 a.m. Monday-Friday on the CW Austin featured how TxDOT gears up in the face of winter weather and tries to stop poor driving conditions before they can start.
Their preferred plan is the anti-icing method with a salt brine they’re doing Friday.
The “freezing point depression” is the scientific principle that explains how this brine prevents ice from forming. Basically, it means adding a substance to water lowers the temperature it starts to freeze at.
If that’s not enough, they can try to de-ice the roads after the fact with chemicals or salt.
The City of Austin doesn’t pretreat roads like TxDOT does. Instead, the city uses dolomite on top of icy roads to help vehicles gain traction and still move along.
KXAN meteorologist Sean Kelly says a “massive” weather system should intensify Saturday over the Rocky Mountains and move Sunday into Texas. He said the areas of biggest concern for frozen precipitation right now are areas north of the city, specifically parts of the Hill County along with parts of Williamson and Milam counties.
There is a chance that some of the snowflakes will mix in with rain down to Austin, Kelly said, and with a freeze settling in behind the system, it could make for a slick commute Monday.