After a major snowstorm, the list of tasks is simple - shovel the sidewalks and rescue the cars from their plowed-in parking spots. If any icy spots remain, cover them with a coating of ice melt or rock salt and watch them disappear.

After the most recent storm, however, some people are finding the melting agents hard to come by, thanks to the recent stretch of harsh winter weather. Some area stores surveyed Friday said their inventory was either depleted or coming close to it.

At Jones Home Center, Route 61, Coal Township, the winter supplies section had a number of empty spots. Only a few shovels remained and no ice melt or rock salt could be found in the store.

"We have been out since last Friday," store manager Jim McDowall said. "We have tried to get more from our supplier, but the pickings are slim at their warehouse, too."

McDowall said the store goes through a number of "tractor-trailer sized" shipments a year, but it's been tough to keep in stock lately.

"We have had numerous snow falls this year, and there was that stretch where the temperatures stayed below zero," McDowall said. "As soon as an ice melt product came in, and there's a call for bad weather, it seems like it went right back out."

At Cole's Hardware in Atlas, a product called "Solar Salt," normally used as a water softening agent, was selling briskly Friday.

"We put out a pallet at about 10 a.m. and now we have one bag left," cashier Barbara Mobley said. "We are expecting another shipment, but it's been selling all day."

Tony Scicchitano Sr., of Scicchitano's Ace Hardware in Mount Carmel, had a few 40-lb. pails and bags of ice melt available for sale Friday, with more in their stockroom.

"We are in good shape right now, and with the warmer weather coming next week, we should be okay for the season," Scicchitano said.

To help avoid a crunch next winter, McDowall said a good rule of thumb is to plan ahead.

"It's always a great idea, if you can, to buy a bag or two extra when it becomes available and keep it somewhere dry in your home," he said.

Since warmer weather is just around the corner, the retailers may not take a chance on getting another shipment in.

"At this stage, you really don't want to tie up the money to get another truckload in have it taking up space in the storeroom," he said.

One of the tried and true ice melters, rock salt, can be used in the summer months for a sweet purpose.

"However, you don't see many people making their own ice cream these days," McDowall joked.