Wet, heavy snow proving difficult to clear from Carter County roads

John Thompson • Dec 10, 2018 at 8:28 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The first major snowfall of the winter has proved to be a tough one for the road crews of the Carter County Highway Department.

“There is just so much of it, and it is so heavy,” Superintendent Roger Colbaugh said of the wet type of snow that piled up throughout the county during the early morning hours of Sunday, reaching a depth of 12 inches at some of the higher elevations and 4-5 inches at the lower elevations.

“The snow was so heavy that our plows could only average 3 or 4 miles an hour,” Colbaugh saId. That meant the crews were taking a lot longer than normal to clear each road, slowing the process to a crawl.

Even though the crews worked from 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sunday and started back to work at 7 a.m. Monday, some of the roads that usually get cleared on the first day after a snow storm remained uncleared.

“We are trying to get to them as fast as we can,” Colbuagh said.

He said the trucks can’t go fast because of the heaviness of the snow. He said the blades get so full of snow that it causes the trucks to go sideways, with the truck sometimes ending up in a ditch.

Crews have had to come to the aid of trucks stranded in a ditch several times Sunday. Three times, the trucks had gotten so stuck in the ditches that a wrecker had to be called to the rescue.

The heavy wet snow piling up on the front blades has caused the frames of those blades to bend and even break.

The department did catch a good break with the temperature, which hovered into the 30s to upper 20s on Sunday night, meaning the snow did not freeze to the road surface. Although it was very heavy, the piles were easily moved off the road. That also meant the department has used very little salt so far with this snowfall.

One of the most frequent complaints to the department from citizens was that when the snow plows removed the deep snows, it left a row of snow between the road and driveways. Colbaugh said the slow progress would have been much less if the plow would have had to stop and clear each driveway.

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