Gathering Deicing Information by Storm Event!

I have been asked numerous times why a product or a deicing method didn’t work during the last storm, It worked before??

There are lot’s of reasons. What was the temp, surface or air? What was the application rate? Was the wind a factor?

All good questions, but everyone seems to plow, (pardon the pun) straight in with the same method, application rate and timing for every storm event. The best thing you can do is to compare events with similar characteristics. Temp, snow fall amount, humidity, wind can all be factors on how deicers perform. Remember the phase curves and how temp and dilution effect their performance.

I talked about this at length with Dale Keep, Ice & Snow Technologies, Inc. a number of years ago. I want to share the T.A.P.E.R log he provided and info that goes with it for tracking storm events for later comparison and then being able to chart or determine what works best for similar storm events in the future. Using this information will help save time, material, fuel and reach your service levels sooner. Which keeps residents and customers happy.

The T.A.P.E.R Log:


In order to make any true cost of use or effectiveness comparisons, one must have accurate and complete data to work with. This is a major problem, as employees are busy trying to provide a service rather than fill out paperwork. This amplifies the need to make the data gathering process both simple and compatible with normal work operations rather than change operations to match data collecting and interfere with the real job.

With this in mind, you need to provide a form for employees to use that is quick and easy to use, and yet complete in the information provided. Additionally, this form had to be composed in such a manner as to allow for simple codes to identify level of service goals and existing conditions. This form and its codes when utilized provides for consistency in reporting, terminology, and definitions of common terminology. The result of all this is the following form called a T.A.P.E.R. log.

The name T.A.P.E.R. is an acronym for the elements of data collected on the form:

  1. Temperature
  2. Application Rate
  3. Product(s) Applied
  4. Event. Used to report weather information
  5. Results. Used to report the results of previous actions.

Another benefit of the TAPER system is to give employees clearly defined guidelines on when to start working a storm event, and more importantly, when to quit. Often it is left up to the individual to determine what to do to reach the defined level of service goal or what is acceptable in determining costs required while achieving it. This results in a wide range of opinions as to what to do, and associated costs for work conducted on a similar storm. It is intended that the use of this form in addition to collecting data will also eliminate theses differences. This will result in consistent winter operations work procedures and deicer application rates under like circumstances and has the potential to greatly reduce costs.


Event: Any weather occurrence that takes us from a mode of no action (slack time in terms of winter operations) to a mode of winter operations action required.

Event Duration: The length of time the event required winter operation actions of some kind.

Slack Time: That period of time where weather conditions do not require plowing, sanding, or other winter operations. Or, a time to accomplish other work tasks at hand.

Winter Operations: Work that is accomplished only during winter months, and is brought about solely by winter weather.

TAPER Log Elements Defined:

Start Date: The date in which crews are taken from slack status and mode of operation to

event status and mode of operation.

End Date: The date in which crews are taken from event status and mode of operation back into slack time status and mode of operation.

Note. The following Level Of Service (LOS) codes are for example only, and the actual

number of LOS goals and their definitions must match your operational needs.

Service Level or Road Condition Codes:

This code is used to describe the level of service goal for a particular area. These codes are also used as a way to describe current conditions at the time of the log entry, and as a winter operations quality standard that advises employees when no more time, money or effort is required or desired.

1: Bare Surface is the goal here, and work will normally consist of pretreatments and continue using a variety of methods to achieve or maintain this level of service.

2: Bare Tracks is the goal here. Chemical applications and all work is done with this level of service in mind. Typically no more than one inch of buildup is allowed outside of the wheel tracks. No time, money, or effort will be expended to upgrade from this level of service once achieved.

3: A plowed surface, ice or compact snow and ice with grit or sanding material on it is acceptable. No more than 2 inches of loose snow is desirable before plowing begins.

Chemical Applications Codes

Ta: Time of application: What time was the chemical application made? Or, in the case of no application being made, the time the entry is made on the log.

T: Temperature: Current temperature as noted at the time of the application or log entry. Note that the log asks for both Air and Pavement Surface

(Pave) temperature. Fill in both if at all possible. Surface temperature is most important, but either is better than nothing.

A: Application Rate. How much product was applied? Report in terms that are meaningful to you.

P: Product: What product is being applied? Know what you are using and write it down. This is important, as the product can change. Going from a dry solid deicer to a liquid or to a prewet solid is a good example. In this case report should include something like: 300 pounds of sold deicer applied with 8 gallons per ton of pre-wetting material. Could snow on report as 300+8, and Drivers/Workers would know what it means.

E: Event: What are the weather conditions observed at this time? This entry when compared with the previous entry provide a pictures of the changing or continuing weather. This provides information on what has happened in terms of moisture (i.e. snow fall) and temperature since the last time you were there.

  1. Results: What are the results or current conditions? This can be indicated with one of the service level/ surface condition codes as shown on the log.


This area is used to enter any beneficial comments. It is the intent that the use of this area when combined with other log data will allow for correct and accurate cost comparisons between LOS goals, products and different work methods. Thus, the ($) dollar signs serve as a reminder of the intended use of this area on the form. After the TAPER log has been used for a period of time it is now possible to put the data to use to further refine chemical applications and operational needs. This will result in a change from effective deicer applications to efficient applications and result in additional savings.

To accomplish this, pull from the TAPER log, the information from the different storm events that resulted in the desired LOS goals or results. Be sure that the total for chemical applications, the lowest temperature observed during a storm event, the total precipitation received during a storm event and plowing conducted is used for analysis. This information can then be put into an Application Rate Chart similar to the following. With experience and the data gather by use of the T.A.P.ER. Log, one can soon match chemical applications and work methods to a given storm event saving dollars and environmental impact while delivering required level of service goals.

Application Rate Chart

Separate T.A.P.E.R. logs and Application charts should be developed for different locations due to potential variances in surface conditions and weather patterns. This also provides better data when this log is utilized in multiple trucks and is filled out regularly. With the T.A.P.E.R. system, and some effort, winter deicer applications and work methods can be matched to a storm event based on your successful experiences. With this system, the application rates developed are for your deicer product(s), area, work methods, and are based on your experiences. For example, with this chart, if a storm were predicted to deliver 1 inch of snow at a low of 28 degrees Fahrenheit, an application of 45 GPLM (gallons per lane mile) would be made and combined with other normal work methods utilized to achieve success.

This is a lot of information to process. However, if you track the storms each season and do post storm reviews and comparisons, it won’t be long and you will be able to predict, what application rates and methods work best for predicted storm events.

There is no silver bullet in the snow and ice business. But you can get ahead of the curve with some data recording and effort after the events. The point is if your saving, time, material, fuel and man hours, it will prove to be well worth the effort invested and help your bottom line too !!!




About Dave Budd

Vice President of Product Development and Marketing, Great Lakes Chloride, Inc. Serving Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Kentucky. Retired Michigan DOT, October 2010 after 32 years experience in Maintenance/Operations. Specializing in winter operations and liquid de-icers and anti-icers.
This entry was posted in Equipment, Parking Lot Maintenance, Reasearch, Salt Brine/Boost Blend, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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