Precipitation hazards: How local agencies are preparing for the wet months

ODOT filling up trucks with red cinder for icy roads. (KTVL)

The much needed rain this weekend can lead to some hazards in many parts of the region, especially to previously burned lands and dry roads.

Rain mixing with burn scarring from Chetco Bar Fire and other burned areas can cause mudslides, Oregon Department of Forestry's Melissa Cano says. Firefighters' mudslide prevention starts, however, during the winter.

"Those areas, we go back and make sure that the ground is basically minimally impacted by the fire.," Cano says. "We make sure that the soil has the treatment and attention that it needs so that there can be regrowth."

Oregon Department of Transportation is preparing for some sliding as well. Not mud, but cars and trucks sliding along icy roads. Many roads in Southern Oregon came into contact with snow, freezing rain, and sleet Friday.

"We've gone from fire and smoke to rain and snow almost in a week," ODOT's Gary Leaming says.

Leaming says ODOT's major road of concern is Interstate 5. They will use a majority of their resources keeping the roadway clear of ice and snow. As for higher elevations with snow pack, the roads will be kept slightly snowy, which is Leaming says is expected from travelers.

Trucks are being filled of red cinder for icy streets at ODOT's cinder facility in Ashland.

One of the biggest changes in ODOT's practices this year includes the use of salt due to a new change in state policy. Oregon is the only state on the west coast that did not use salt as a ice melting mechanism. After a pilot run near the California border, the state determined that ODOT can use salt, along with previously used magnesium chloride, to ice roads heading towards the Sexton Summit.

"The state informed us that we can use it responsibly, and we can use it at minimal rates to keep the streets open," Leaming says.

Chaining, a common ice-road tactic in Oregon, causes back up issues on ODOT roads. Leaming says the use of salt will hopefully alleviate those problems. "We'd have people outside of their vehicle chaining up, people not knowing how to put chains on, legs sticking out into travel lanes. Anytime we put a chain requirement on, it backs up traffic."

For more information on staying safe during the beginning of the snowy months, feel free to visit the links below:

Siskiyou Summit Primer

Winter Road Maintenace

Winter Driving

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