The iconic Morton Salt umbrella girl has warned "When it Rains it Pours" since 1914. The mascot in the yellow dress has had it right for 100 years, and at no time has that been truer than during this year's incredibly tough winter. There's been plenty of salt being poured this season, but for municipalities across the country, there might not be enough of it to keep going. The Associated Press is reporting that the weather across the US has been so cold and snowy that road salt is in alarmingly short supply, a situation that has triggered price spikes, rationing, and cities looking for alternative ways to keep their roads clear.
According to the news agency, buying salt right now can be two or three times as costly as it was early in the season. The AP quotes the general manager of Ice Melt Chicago, a salt distributor, as saying, "So the municipalities that could buy bulk salt early in the year at $53 a ton are now paying $130 a ton a week ago ... and I heard the prices have gone up to $175 to $180 a ton. It could easily go to $200 a ton or more."
Many towns around the country are trying to keep a lid on costs by restricting usage to key areas including hills and intersections. Some are mixing what salt they have left with sand, while others are using liquid cheese brine and Beet Heet, processed molasses from sugar beets.
And it's not just the salt that's more expensive – with more storms comes more man hours, more overtime, more fuel for plow trucks and more wear and tear on equipment. When it snows, it pours, too.