County Snow Prep

truck clearing roadway

When meteorologists predict that severe weather is on the way, the County swings into action to prepare. Our goal is to maintain essential County operations. Here’s a sampling of the many ways County staff mobilize for major winter storms:


  • Prepare the 46 heavy trucks used for snowplowing operations, including hooking up equipment to the trucks, e.g., plows, salt spreaders and chains. Work with contractors who may provide additional trucks to assist in clearing efforts.
  • Before snowfall begins, crews pre-treat primary and secondary streets with brine and salt.
  • Crews begin working in 12-hour shifts (in compliance with safe practice standards) to treat and clear the streets.
    • Crews are pulled from multiple departments around the County.
    • These shifts will continue throughout the storm and extend into the days following, as necessary.
  • Crews follow the snow removal process and phases to clear streets.
  • For massive snow amounts, crews identify areas where they can haul snow or place snow melting equipment.
  • About 10 miles of multi-use trails are prioritized and will be cleared during the first phase of snow removal.
    • Similar to pre-treating roads, a brine treatment will be used when no rain is predicted and temperatures are above 20 F.

Equipment Preparation

  • Ensure vehicles are fully fueled, cabs and beds emptied and emergency equipment on vehicles is ready to go (e.g., flares, caution tape, cones, flashlights, signs).
  • Prepare equipment and make sure it is ready to go (e.g., dump trucks, brine trucks, spreaders, plows, loaders, chain saws, gas cans).
  • Test and top off all generators at County facilities.
  • Fire Dept. adds additional staff to shifts; also adds extra apparatus, equipment, and medic units. All fire apparatus is equipped with chains.

At Facilities

  • Check gutters and downspouts to be sure they are clear to prevent ice dams.
  • Check and clear exterior drains, especially in basement stairwells.
  • Have sandbags ready.
  • Check sump pumps for when snow begins to melt.
  • Check outdoor heat pump units to ensure snow and ice have not built up.
  • Check for and secure any large objects on roof and/or in yard that could be blown by wind, including missing/loose shingles.
  • Remove all loose equipment (e.g., picnic tables, trash cans, etc.) from flood plains.
  • Close trails and areas prone to flooding and check culverts.
    • Also check field drains and stormwater drains.
    • Place sandbags at facilities that are prone to flooding.
  • When Arlington Public Libraries are closed, due dates are suspended for several days, so that patrons don’t need to worry about returning materials.
  • When high winds and/or heavy snow are forecast, our tree crews prepare for downed trees.
  • Program HVAC for buildings that will be in use during emergency operations.

Other Staff Preparations

  • Prepare to staff Emergency Operations Center for 24/7 operation to coordinate the emergency response.
  • Put operational staff on 24/7 call.
  • Increase staffing for the 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Center (ECC), which is the hub for all emergency and non-emergency calls for service.
  • Office staffers are asked to bring work home and check remote access prior to the storm, and are asked to join necessary scheduled meetings via telephone or online collaboration tools.
  • Ensure residential programs (shelters, group homes) are on alert and make arrangements for any special needs.

Arlington Public Schools Preparations

  • Refuel generators and staging supplies.
  • Monitor road conditions, driving bus routes and assessing walkways. This effort begins around 1 a.m.
  • Get ready to plow school parking lots, bus driveways, sidewalks.
  • Monitor power in all schools overnight in case an outage triggers a school closing.