Snow Plowing and How You Can Help!

November 17, 2018
November 15th, 2018 Storm Recap

Good morning Somers. We hope everyone is fully recovered from Thursday and Friday's weather. This storm was unique in a few ways. We just wanted to touch base after the storm to dispel some of the things that have been put out there on social media by our residents regarding snow removal.

This storm could not have had worse timing. The first flakes fell around 4 PM. At this time the roads were packed with cars for the evening commute. Over an inch of snow fell in the first 15 minutes which caused our roads to cover over almost instantly. The truth is, our road temperatures were not terribly low when it began snowing, which is usually a good thing. When 3" of snow fall in hour however, you can throw the road temps out the window...they WILL cover over. What ended up happening was cars began to slide all over the roads within minutes or the storm starting. In fact, large numbers of motorists spun out, got stuck, or just flat out abandoned cars in the middle of the roadways. THIS CAUSES HUGE PROBLEMS FOR US AS A HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT, AND EVEN BIGGER PROBLEMS FOR EMERGENCY SERVICE WORKERS. If we cannot get through to our routes because cars are blocking the roads, then we cannot plow them! Even worse would be if there was an actual emergency! If a fire truck, police car or ambulance wasn't able to get to one of our residents in need because of other residents blocking our plows in, it would be a tragedy!

Some municipalities, including us, will pretreat the roads with a liquid salt brine (essentially a mixture regular salt, magnesium chloride and water) before storms. Pretreating for this storm was IRRELEVANT! We generally will pretreat our roads when they have a very low road temperature at the beginning of a storm. A couple other local municipalities (who we are in constant contact with) did brine their roads prior to this storm and had results equal to or worse than us! Salt brine is expensive to our tax payers and is also horrible for the vehicles traveling over it! We only use it in the right circumstances and this was not one of them!

In all honestly, once the majority of cars were removed from the roads (around 9PM), this storm was no big deal for us. We got a few more inches of snow, then some freezing rain, and then some rain. When our trucks had room to operate, we were able to clean up the roads like we normally do. Ho hum. No big deal. The storm decided to give us one last punch in the gut around 7AM with an additional 2" of snow to cover up clean roads once again, but our crews were able to have that cleaned up by around 11AM. Our crew was working from 7AM Thursday to 3:30 PM on Friday to take care of all of this. We are well aware of stereotypes involving town workers being lazy. THIS IS NOT OUR CREW! These people work for 30-40 hours straight through the night with no rest, in the worst conditions imaginable to make sure roads are safe for you! All the while they are abandoning their families to do the greater good. Please try to remember that when you are sitting in your warm house tearing people apart on social media!

There are a few ways our residents can help:

Number one being...STAY OFF THE ROADS! Storms generally don't come out of nowhere. If you know bad weather is coming, STAY HOME. If you have to go to work, LEAVE EARLY! Don't be on the roads when it makes the lives of emergency workers so much easier. We know not everyone has that kind of flexibility with their travel schedule, but those of you that do, please use common sense.

Number two, please don't park your car on the side of the road. Obstructions in the road like cars and basketball hoops make our lives harder. Please refrain from leaving anything in the roadways.

Lastly, GET A CDL! Instead of saying you can do it better on social media, come show us! We hire local residents to help subsidize our crew in the winter. If you have a CDL or at the very least, plowing experience, come down and see us at the highway garage. We might be able to use you!

This storm was challenging for everyone affected by it, not just us here in Somers. The Lincoln Tunnel and West Side Highway were closed. Portions of 84 were closed. There were issues statewide. It wasn't just limited to Somers. If it took us longer this storm to clear your roads we apologize. The first few hours were as difficult on us as it was for you. We are all on the same team. We want to keep our roads safe for you. You want safe roads to drive on. Let's make it happen together.


Somers Highway Department