Snow removers prepare for 6th snowfall in two weeks

Sioux Falls, SD (KSFY) “Everybody’s ready to be done, including me,” Sioux Falls City Street manager Galynn Huber said.

With six days of snow in just two weeks, the constant need for snow removal has many people wishing for summer.

Many people woke up to roughly four inches of snow Friday morning, but another six inches is expected in the Sioux Falls area Saturday. It’s why the City of Sioux Falls decided to hold off on snow removal in residential areas Friday morning.

“We knew that we had another large snow event coming in tomorrow and what we were hoping to do is make sure the roads are drivable today and then we could do one great big push tomorrow with the big snow that's coming in tomorrow,” Huber said.

Many people can relate to angst over feeling like as soon as you finish cleaning off your sidewalks and driveways it’s time to do it again the next day, but the constant snowfall is even more exhausting for the people in charge of cleaning hundreds of driveways and parking lots and more than three thousand miles of city streets.

“It means not much sleep and a lot of caffeine,” Mike Vellema with Champion Tree Service and Snow Removal said.
“Basically we've had crews working 12 hour shifts, midnight to noon or noon to midnight, ever since the snow came in on Tuesday,” Huber said.

Employees at private snow removal companies and the city street department have been working around the clock most of the month to keep up with the constant snowfall.

“In a standard winter we do about 15 to 20 removals for the whole year, for the month of February we're out for the 8th time alone just this month,” Vellema said.

“We basically budget for six snow alerts and we had snow alert number five on Tuesday and this Saturday will be number six,” Huber said.

But Huber says he's hopeful the city can stay on budget, largely because his crews haven't had to haul away snow during five of those snow removals.

“Probably one of the bigger expenses for snow alerts is picking up the snow,” Huber said. “We can plow out the city in 24 hours but it usually takes us anywhere from two or three days to pick up all the snow.”

Trying to maintain that budget is another reason Sioux Falls chose to hold off plowing residential streets until Saturday.

“If I was a citizen and I hired somebody to clean out my driveway and it cost me $200 to have my driveway cleaned out and I’m going to have two snows within 24 hours of each other I don't think I would have that contractor clean up my snow today knowing he's going to have to come back tomorrow,” Huber said.

While the city and homeowners may wait to clear the snow until the next snowfall, waiting isn't an option for many businesses.

“We had so much snow fall, it was almost impossible to let it double up,” Vellema said. “We're just trying to do our best to avoid a slip or fall.”
Since the city let snow on the residential streets double up, the plows will be removing roughly 10 inches of snowfall tomorrow; that means the snow gates that usually prevent a big ridge at the end of your drive way won't work so well.

“We used snow gates on every street in the city of Sioux Falls but snow gates aren’t engineered to hold that much snow,” Huber said.

City snow plows will continue to keep emergency snow routes and secondary streets cleared throughout the weekend, with a heaving emphasis around the Premier Center, Sanford Pentagon and the Eastway bowling alley where several large events are going on this weekend.