Winter brings with it a recurring set of challenges for our community, and Public Works department staff are preparing to meet these challenges. We conduct training classes each fall with all staff to get them in the mindset of winter preparations and go over any changes to our operations. Our Fleet staff also gear up for winter by inspecting every plow truck and winter response equipment to make sure they’re ready to deploy at the first sign of snow and/or ice.
Winter storms are categorized into one of three classifications, as follows:
Class I Storm:
This condition represents an accumulation of snow no more than 1 inch in depth, with imminent and/or present icy conditions with temperatures at or below freezing.
Response: Treatment of the roadway with abrasives. Resources may involve anywhere from one plow/operator to a full crew depending upon the area the storm is affecting. We are unable to plow snow that is less than 2 inches in depth without causing damage to roads and equipment.
Class II Storm:
Weather conditions include snow accumulations from 2 to 6 inches, with current and forecasted temperatures at or below freezing.
Response: Deployment of full crew (six plows/operators) across all affected areas, with plowing and abrasives used as needed.
Class III Storm:
Weather conditions include snow accumulations of more than 6 inches with current and forecasted temperatures below freezing.
Response: Deployment of full crew (six plows/operators) across all affected areas, with plowing and abrasives used as needed. If the storm is forecasted to last across several shifts or days, a second crew will be deployed and a 12-hour shift rotation will be implemented, which will provide 24-hour coverage until the storm has abated and road conditions return to normal or near-normal driving conditions.
Due to the many micro-biomes within the valley, a given storm can create different conditions at the same time. For example, many times in a Class I storm our response would include a few trucks treating the upper roads, but no response may be necessary on the valley floor. As the storm worsens and the valley floors begin to be impacted, crews would be dispatched to respond accordingly. Our management staff closely monitor the progression of each storm and we are ready to escalate our response to match the changing conditions.
Whatever the storm classification may be, the District prioritizes the routes based on average daily traffic, grade, and other important safety considerations. Our main roads come first, and our plan focuses on completing them as quickly and safely as possible.
- Bear Valley Road
- Cumberland Road
- Lower Valley Road
- San Juan Drive
- Deertrail Drive
- Jacaranda Drive
- Paramount Drive
- Skyline Drive
- Oakflat Drive
- Saddleback Drive
- Rolling Oak Drive
- Greenwater Drive
- Starland Drive
- Upper Pinedale Drive
- Stirrup Way
All other streets are designated as “Residential” and fall in the Priority 3 category. It’s important to understand that our approach to snow removal in plowing situations strives to open all roads as quickly as we can after the storm begins. This means our first effort will be an “up and back” approach, which opens both lanes on the road. At times, snow may accumulate so quickly that we are unable to move on from the Priority1 roads until the storm has passed.
Only after we have opened all roads and made them safe for travel will we return and clear the road, which means plowing the remaining snow/windrow onto the shoulder (where possible). We recognize that this method means residents may have cleared their driveways before our final pass, and then as we finalize our cleaning of the road later in the shift the windrow could now be in the freshly cleaned driveway. Plow drivers do all they can to minimize this impact by straightening the plow as they pass by a cleared driveway, but in a lot of cases there will be an impact as we focus on making the roads as safe and passable as we can. We also ask that residents not plow or throw their driveway snow out into the street, as this could cause a safety concern for drivers on the road.
We continually focus on improving our service in this important area and do our utmost to minimize the impact these storms have on residents’ travel plans, but our greatest goal will always be maintaining our roads in the safest possible way for our community.