Snow removal tips for each stage of a storm

Snow removal tips for each stage of a storm
Posted on 12/02/2022

Snow season is upon us, so it’s time to refresh your winter weather wisdom. Know how we approach snow removal throughout a storm, and ways you can be prepared, too.

Before a storm

Don’t be caught off guard by winter weather. Follow trusted sources like the National Weather Service so you can plan around the timing and conditions of forecast storms. We’ll also keep you updated on our crews’ plans at and our social media accounts.

Park your vehicles in your driveway or garage – not in the street – and remove any other temporary structures near the road like basketball goals. Obstacles in the road slow down plow drivers and leave hard piles of frozen snow behind.

If your curb is hard to see in deep or drifting snow, put survey flags behind the curb to help drivers avoid damaging your lawn. These flags are available at many hardware stores.

During a storm

Stay home to give crews plenty of space to clear the roads. If you have to get out, take it slow. Reckless driving in inclement weather endangers not only yourself, but also other drivers, plow crews and the emergency workers who have to respond to your crash.

Stay at least 30 feet (about four car lengths) behind plow trucks and avoid passing or driving alongside them. Snow plows have large blind spots – if you can’t see the driver in their mirrors, they can’t see you.

Snow crews start clearing and treating major streets with high traffic volumes first to enable safe access for emergency services. Neighborhood streets are plowed once these roads are cleared.

Each storm is different, and the way we approach treating streets can change with each weather event. When heavy rains arrive before snow, you may not see crews pretreating streets. Heavy, wet snows that cling to the plows can slow progress. Lower temperatures make salt less effective.

Temperatures before and after the storm, duration of precipitation, the depth and heaviness of the snow, wind and equipment readiness all impact the time it takes to clear streets.

Animation of way to prevent windrowBefore the plows pass by your house, head outside with your shovel to prevent windrows! These pesky piles of snow are an unavoidable part of the snow removal process, but there’s a trick to reducing their size.

Shovel an inlet on the right side of your driveway (facing the house) and pile the removed snow on the left. When the plow passes, much of the snow will be pushed into the inlet.

After a storm

Snow removal will start on trails and school crossings after snow has stopped falling and all streets and City-owned facilities are cleared. If the weather forecast indicates the snow will melt on its own within 48 hours of the storm, the City will likely not remove the snow.

Enjoy building a snow fort, igloo or snowman – away from the street. Trucks will often pass by again to push snow back further on the curb, which could ruin your creation.

Published December 2, 2022