Milwaukee DPW sprayed salt brine before snow covered roads

Milwaukee Department of Public Works crews used salt brine on the roads before the snow moved in on Thursday, Feb. 16. 

Places like Milwaukee City Hall closed early due to the snow and wind, with a snow emergency in place.

"I was very surprised when they called off school last night," said Kyle Davis. 

Davis tried to help his sons pass the time on a snowy sidewalk near the Milwaukee – St. Francis border.

"They had some screen time before, and now, we are trying to stay away from those," said Davis. "They seem entertained so far."

Staying close to home was a good call.  Cudahy was covered in white, and heading into downtown Milwaukee, the skyline disappeared, with only GPS to show the way.

"Normally, we start out about two days in advance," said Jeffrey Smith, DPW sanitation manager. 

Smith said 105 employees were working 12-hour shifts to keep Milwaukee roads clear. Workers rely on experts like the FOX6 meteorologists to guide them.

"They play a vital part," said Smith. "We listen to all our locals as well as our nationals, too.  We put everything into a recipe and come up with a plan."

You’d think salt would be the most important ingredient. Smith said crews started spraying first thing Thursday morning.

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"We’ve reduced our usage of salt – as far as a tonnage amount," said Smith. "We have started using salt brine. It’s basically a mixture that goes on with the salt to make it activate sooner."

Smith said that’s more effective, saves taxpayer dollars and is better for the environment. 

The elements even proved difficult to walk in.

There are some who enjoyed the weather, including a group of guys in shorts jogging downtown.