From Baltimore to Boston, rock salt supplies for the Northeast US are beginning to run thin.
In addition to a recent bout of aggressive winter storms, the snow and ice industry is managing the impact of ocean shipping and domestic trucking problems contributing supply chain issues. As a result, salt suppliers are not adding additional tons of rock salt to contracts that reach the 100 percent agreed amount, according to snow industry insiders.
If the weather for the remainder of winter trends toward warm, then the professional snow and ice management industry should be OK with existing supplies. However, if the region experiences another pattern of cold and snow/ice, then there will be many unhappy private contractors out there who failed to predict and contract for the amount they need at the beginning of the season, says Rob English, Snow Magazine Contributing Editor and President of Chemical Solution Inc. in Franklin, Mass.
"It’s always a crap shoot in salt and if snow contractors don’t take the tons, the suppliers have to eat them," English says. "If they do take the tons, then suppliers are heroes until they have taken the entire contract quantity when suppliers now somehow are viewed as bad guys."
While it's uncertain what weather patterns are in brewing for the next six to eight weeks, it should be noted that last week furry winter weather oracle Punxsutawney Phil did see his shadow, which could result in six more weeks of winter.
Mike Zawacki is editor of Snow Magazine.