Penn Township in Westmoreland County ordered 500 tons of rock salt Jan. 21, 500 more Jan. 23 and 500 more Jan. 30, for a total of 1,500 tons. As of Friday, only 350 tons — less than enough to deal with two typical accumulating snowstorms — had arrived.
The township is not alone. Communities throughout the state and across the Midwest and Northeast are struggling to keep up with a winter that has gnawed away at their salt supplies.
There is no shortage, according to one major supplier. The problem is twofold: recurring snowfalls, none of them blizzards but with enough accumulation to require road treatment, and bitter cold that has iced rivers and slowed the progress of barges carrying salt to depots.
“We have plenty of salt,” said Peggy Landon, director of corporate communications and investor relations for Compass Minerals, parent of Kansas-based North American Salt, which ships rock salt to 5,000 destinations in North America. “It’s being transported every single day.”