Most experienced professionals will tell you it’s always best to plow with the storm. The deeper the snow, the harder the job. Deep snow also decreases your productivity. If you expect snow accumulation of greater than one inch, you should plan on plowing.
If snow gets too deep, it may actually become almost impossible to plow. If snow sits too long, there’s also a greater chance of it hardening up, which makes snow removal that much more difficult. In addition, moving vehicles back and forth across fallen snow can create an underlying ice path, which is difficult to remove as well. If the client is a commercial account, it means there could be multiple vehicles traversing a snow removal area.
This all means you’ll often have to go out in the middle snowstorm or even a blizzard to plow. Snow removal can be a tough job even under ideal conditions. During a storm, you’ll likely encounter: snow and ice covered road surfaces while en route to the client, high winds and limited visibility both traveling to and at the job site.
Handling a major snowstorm or blizzard all comes down to proper planning. The first concern is always your safety and the safety of your clients. If the government declares a state-of-emergency, you shouldn’t be on the road at all.
Watch the weather and anticipate when your clients are likely to need your services. There are different kinds of snow events and each offers its own challenges. A long heavy snow, like a lake effect snow or blizzard, may require you to plow the same area several times. An ice storm will present tricky travel on icy roads and you’re also likely to do more salting or chemical application than actual plowing. During a lake effect snow, some clients may need your services more than others. Notice where the snow bands are likely to set up and plan your work schedule accordingly.
Perform recommended preventative maintenance before the storm hits and make sure everything is in operational order. Check the plow, lights, fluid levels and spreader. Fuel up your truck and make sure its fluid levels are topped off and the battery is in good working order. You don’t want to suffer a breakdown or find out that something isn’t working during a major snowstorm. If you are still unfamiliar with how your plow operates, make sure to review the owner’s manual.
If you are unfamiliar with the snow removal area, you might want to scout the property before the storm. Look for spots that offer easy ingress and egress at the site. Check for areas where vehicle traffic is likely to be heaviest, and plan to increase salting or chemical applications in those areas. Make sure you note where the grassy areas are, or where there are dips in the pavement.
Look for places where you can pile snow or any areas where piled and melting snow can easily drain. Plan to keep piled snow away from buildings or walkways if at all possible. If the snow removal area has a lot of curves, consider staking the area before the storm.
Before you head out on the road make sure you take along an emergency/survivor kit that includes: extra clothing, a blanket/comforter, shovel, gloves, flashlight/flares, water and snacks like granola, beef jerky or power bars. You may have a four-wheel drive that can handle just about any road surface, but when you brake the same rules of physics apply. You can still slide off the road and get stuck.
Now check with your local Meyer dealer and stock up on any supplies that may be necessary for the duration of the event. It also pays to check if they are extending service hours, or provide any other services that may be helpful during a major snowstorm.