Marlene Feist

Snow Season is Here!

Marlene Feist, Public Works Director of Strategic Development, 509.625.6505

Friday, November 13, 2020 at 3:50 p.m.

The City’s declared snow season officially launches Nov. 15, but it’s apparent that winter has already arrived in Spokane. Snow has fallen a couple of times already, and winter forecasts predict a snowier-than-usual season.

In front of a backdrop of a pile of sand used to improve vehicle traction, Mayor Nadine Woodward, Public Works Director Scott Simmons, and Street Director Clint Harris reminded citizens of our plans to handle the annual arrival of snow and ice.

“While we can’t predict exactly when and how the snow will come, we are pleased to provide a plan that’s adaptable and designed to meet our community’s needs,” the Mayor said.

So, what’s new when it comes to snow? A few things it turns out:

  • The Pandemic. More people remain at home during the weekdays because of telework and distance learning among our school kids. That means more cars will be parked in residential areas; the need to park cars on the odd side of the street will be more important than ever to help ensure the plows can get through. And, at business locations that are closed or open less frequently, it’s still important to shovel the sidewalk to allow pedestrians to move through our community.
  • New Equipment. We added one more of those super-popular snow gates that reduce berms at the end of driveways. We now have 17 of those gates in the fleet! We also added a new “wing blade” plow that provides more maneuverability in tight spaces. We’re piloting that equipment to see how it might work in areas with narrower streets.
  • More Efficient Operations. We’ve added some new sites to store deicer and sand so crews can reload more easily and speed response. We also are trying out new ground/street temperature monitoring to customize response based on conditions in different parts of the City.

The revamped its snow response plans a few years ago to respond to citizen concerns. Since then, we’ve focused on efforts that bring more plowing to more areas sooner after a snowfall.

When it snows, even if it’s just an inch or two, crews will plow all of the streets, including residential streets. We do that “maintenance plow” work on the day shift, Monday through Friday, when crews from our water and wastewater utilities are more available.  When it snows more than that, we will move to 24/7 operations. It takes about 3 days to complete a full-City plow.

As mentioned above, we will deploy equipment with snow gates in our residential areas. While the gates won’t eliminate driveway berms, especially on arterials that are plowed frequently, they will greatly reduce them.

Plow Trucks

With continued cold weather, now is a great time to make your own winter plan:

  • Move your recreational vehicle, boat or trailer off the street and to a winter storage location now. (Regardless of the time of year, these vehicles are limited to 24 hours of continuous parking on City streets; passenger vehicles are limited to 72 hours of continuous parking.)
  • Make sure you have adequate snow shovels or a working snow blower to clear your driveway and sidewalks. Consider buying some salt or sand. Property owners are asked to clear a 36-inch pathway on sidewalks by 9 a.m. after a snowstorm, if possible.
  • Consider signing up with a company that provides snow removal services before the snow flies if you don’t want to shovel yourself.
  • For seniors or disabled individuals who may need help shoveling, call 3-1-1 now to get connected to volunteer services.
  • Figure out where you can park throughout the snow season, from Nov. 15 to March 15. We ask everyone to park on the odd side of the street to allow plows to get through.
  • Figure out what residential snow plow route you live in to make it easier to track the progress of plows. Here is a link to the residential plow route map.
  • Make sure you know who in your neighborhood might need help with shoveling or other winter work and offer to help.

Check out all the Snow Response Plan details on the Street Department’s snow page.

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