MINNEAPOLIS - In an old fashioned snowstorm you might wish for some new invention to make it easier, but there's nothing better than the simple substance we've used for years.
"Salt melts the ice," said Ed Cussler, University of Minnesota distinguished professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. "And that solves the problem."
But it didn't last weekend, when most of Minnesota got 10 to 16 inches of wet, heavy snow. The Minnesota State Patrol says there were 1,300 spinouts and 650 crashes, yet MnDOT says it did all it could, blaming the bad roads on weather it says it can't control.
Sunday's storm was tough to handle and officials said they wouldn't do anything differently.
"It was wet, heavy snow," said MnDOT Spokesperson Kent Barnard. "And with temperatures falling, the salt stopped working."
Some drivers accepted that reason, but others did not. Experts say it's not as simple as it seems. Cussler says winter weather -- and its effect on roads -- is a tricky science, one not often understood by many drivers.
"What you really want to do is break the bond between the ice and the road and push the solid ice off to the side," Cussler said. "No one really has a good way to do that."
Yet MnDOT says it'll try. This weekend, we'll see an inch or two more of slush, a rain/snow mix that could again make driving tough. And MnDOT says it's ready.
"Weather is not predictable, as we all know," Barnard said. "And we're going to go out and fight it with as many forces and trucks and with as many resources as we have available."
And they'll do it with Minnesotans closely watching, with drivers' eyes both on the roads, and on how well MnDOT clears them.
MnDOT says its crews have been working 24 hours a day since Sunday's storm, and they're now preparing to use salt brine to coat some of the area's major roads before we get more snow.