Frequent Snowfall Poses Unique Challenges to Hopkins Snowplows

With storms hitting so frequently, roads aren’t necessarily getting plowed whenever a snowflake drops.

Improved snow-melting technology and strategic decisions about when roads shouldn’t be plowed are helping Hopkins weather this year’s heavy snowfall, said Jay Strachota, the city’s parks and streets superintendent.

Residents may have noticed that plows aren’t necessarily scraping down to blacktop after each snowfall. Strachota said that’s because the city may let the snow sit for a bit if another snowstorm is expected soon afterward.

“It’s a little different operating under a new day, new snow with these clippers coming through so frequently,” Strachota said.

Public Works is using practices like that to mitigate the use of overtime whenever a follow-on storm is expected.

Storms that have largely stayed just under the two-inch mark for snowfall have made the number of snow emergencies much less than the total snowfall would suggest.

But snow emergency or not, plowing has costs—costs that Strachota said are pretty similar whether a storm drop 1 ½ inches of snow or six to eight inches of snow.

Still, new salting technology that adds water to the salt before it hits the road allows the salt to start melting ice sooner—which, in turn, has enabled Public Works to use less salt.

Consequently, Strachota said the city’s sand and salt supplies are holding up well.

He added that residents can help plows by moving their vehicles off the road during snowstorms even if the city doesn’t declare a snow emergency. Residents are also encouraged to clear the snow from around fire hydrants so firefighters can more easily find them.

Click here for more information on what to do during a snow emergency.


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