County Manager: Snowzilla Will Lead to Operational Changes

Published on March 15, 2016

Although the official winter of 2015-2016 has just days left, the County continues to study and learn from its response to Snowzilla, the historic blizzard of late January.

Some 3,000 constituents have provided valuable feedback via online survey and by attending the Feb. 24 public forum on Arlington's storm-fighting efforts and ways to improve.

That input has been organized into four major themes, County Manager Mark Schwartz told the Board today:

  • Street Clearing & Cleanup

  • School Coordination

  • Ordinance & Policies

  • Communication & Technology


"I want to thank all in the community who let us know what they think worked in our snow removal efforts, and who made concrete suggestions for improvements," he said. "We've identified potential operational changes that can be implemented before next winter hits." Among them:

  • Reducing response times with simultaneous deployment in residential streets for larger events.

  • Increasing the number of backup drivers for larger events.

  • Additional management of assets — staff and contractors — to minimize snow piling at intersections and sidewalks and reduce missed streets.

  • Increasing level of preparatory training and oversight of contractors for consistency in service levels and to minimize obstructive snow piling.

  • Improving technology used to track, monitor and communicate progress during snow and ice removal.


Potential long-term operational changes include a possible staging area in north Arlington and adding equipment, such as backhoe plows, and replacing the snow melter.

County staff also are looking at odd-even parking, snow emergency routes and the use of commercial/County garages as ways to get vehicles off the roads and out of the way during storm clean-ups.

Future storm responses also could have greater deployment of volunteer resources and more coordination with Arlington civic associations. This is the Manager's initial report to the Board on the results of public outreach and internal review. He will make another, more comprehensive report later this year.

For more information, and to view the presentation to the Board, visit the County's snowstorm response webpage.