As a relatively moderate summer comes to a close, people from all across the United States are wondering what this winter has in store. Although we’re still months away, a number of sources have already begun to make predictions about the likelihood of certain weather patterns throughout the 2014-2015 season.
For the most part, experts are in agreement – the majority of the U.S. (and especially regions throughout the Northeast and Midwest) will experience colder-than-average temperatures and above-average precipitation.
Those who remember the rock salt shortage in early 2014 may be worried that a similar shortage will occur again this winter. If you’re concerned about running out of rock salt and other materials when you need them most, we recommend reviewing the factors that are causing the 2015 rock salt shortage, and how to avoid being caught in a bind.
What Causes a Rock Salt Shortage?
A rock salt shortage can occur as the result of a number of different factors, but one of the leading causes has to do with unexpected weather patterns. When a major winter storm is predicted, homeowners tend to rush out to local stores in order to stock up on rock salt. When this happens, store inventories are quickly depleted. This, however, is only a temporary problem.
The real issues begins when frigid weather continues to drag out much longer than is typical for a region. In these cases, both individual homeowners and large organizations (ie: cities, counties, schools, churches and businesses) may require more rock salt than they had originally anticipated.
The consistent, ongoing need to purchase more and more rock salt across numerous counties and states can make it difficult for suppliers to keep up with the orders that local supplier place. This results in either a drastic spike in the prices of rock salt, or worse yet, empty shelves.
How Can I Prepare for the Rock Salt Shortage?
Preparing for the rock salt shortage in late 2014 and early 2015 requires only a little time and effort on your part. Here are a few tips for surviving this winter regardless of whether or not there is a rock salt shortage:
- Buy Early – The most obvious way to avoid the stress associated with a shortage of rock salt and other ice melting products is to stock up in advance. Instead of waiting until the weather forecast calls for precipitation and freezing conditions, anticipate your need ahead of time and purchase several bags of rock salt while the weather is still nice. Not only will this ensure that you won’t have to deal with retailers that have run out of their inventory of rock salt, but you won’t be forced to drive in dangerous conditions to purchase it either. As a bonus, when the material has less of a demand due to fair weather, you may find that rock salt prices are actually lower than they would be in the middle of the winter.
- Store Properly – In order for rock salt to be effective and ready for use at a moment’s notice, you need to ensure that you store it in a place where it will remain clean and dry. You might consider storing bags of rocks salt inside of an unused trash can, or inside of plastic bins with a sealable lid. Keep in mind that rock salt will tend to clump into a solid mass at temperatures below 20 degrees or if it is in a moist area, so if the temperature inside of your garage or shed frequently dips below that point or tends to be humid, you might want to keep the material in your home’s basement or a storage closet.
- Develop Supplier Relationships – It’s always in your best interest to have a good relationship with the supplier that sells you your landscaping materials. When you’re able to trust your supply company, you can ask for valuable advice on matters pertaining to what type of rock salt you should purchase and how much you’ll need to survive the winter. When you know your supplier, you’ll also be able to discuss when new shipments of rock salt may come in should you need to purchase more material later in the winter season.
Avoiding the Rock Salt Shortage
It may be impossible to fully predict the future, but weather experts seem to agree that there’s a good chance that we could be in for another harsh winter. Don’t put your seasonal shopping on the back burner. By planning ahead and purchasing quality rock salt from a trustworthy supplier in advance, you’ll be prepared for whatever Old Man Winter has in store for us in 2014-2015.
Photo courtesy of InsideEdition.