CHARLESTON, W.Va. - This winter's weather hasn't been kind to salt supplies this year, both locally and regionally.
Several cities in Kanawha County have used twice as much salt as they have annually in recent years as road crews do their best to keep roads passable during rounds of wintry precipitation.
In Charleston, for example, Public Works Director Gary Taylor said the city has used about 4,000 tons of salt so far this season - roughly the same amount used in the past two years.
"We've used more this year than the last couple years due to the weather we've had," he said.
During a recent snow event, Taylor said the city used between 800 and 1,000 tons of salt to keep roads clear and drivers safe.
"With our hills here, we have to put salt down," he said.
Elsewhere in the county, at least two other municipalities have used two times the amount of salt than in an average winter.
In Dunbar, City Council learned at its meeting Monday that between 60 and 70 tons of salt has been spread in that city - the same amount the city usually uses in two years.
Nitro Public Works Director A.J. Hill said crews there have used about 60 tons of salt and a large amount of sand - also twice that of a normal year.
Regionally, repeated snowstorms in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic have led to a salt shortage for suppliers. Newspapers from Ohio to New England have reported officials in those states are facing salt shortages.
Taylor said a representative of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio contacted him Wednesday to see how Charleston is coping with obtaining additional salt. He said the representative was calling several major cities throughout the Mid-Atlantic as well.
"They're in the same shape," Taylor said. "There's a shortage of salt right now."
Taylor said Charleston is working to have more salt delivered, but in the meantime, he doesn't believe the city is close to running out any time soon.
"We're OK right now," he said.
At the state level, the Division of Highways is responsible for maintaining just fewer than 36,000 miles of state-owned roads with a fleet of about 800 trucks. West Virginia is one of four states that doesn't have county-owned road systems.
Department of Transportation spokeswoman Carrie Bly said the state has plenty of salt for now, though the department is aware of the regional shortage.
"There's such a high demand for salt right now," she said. "About a dozen other states are in the same circumstances as we are."
For the current season through Monday, Bly said the state has used 236,354 tons of salt. The state started with around 160,000 tons near the beginning of the year and orders more as necessary. The state also uses salt brine to treat roads in some cases.
Though West Virginia has enough of a supply on hand for now, the department has placed orders for additional supplies.
"We haven't faced a shortage yet," Bly said, noting the state can move salt within its borders to areas where it's needed. "We're still in good shape."
In terms of its budget, Bly said the state has planned to spend just under $55 million for snow removal. So far, the state has spent about 77 percent of its budgeted amount, or about $42 million.