Snow Removal Phases and Process

During Snowfall 

Snow Phases graphic

Snow crews focus on keeping main arteries passable for emergency vehicles and public transportation (red primary routes). This includes snow emergency routes; arterial streets; high-volume, multi-use County trails; main bus routes; and roads to hospitals, fire stations, Metro stations and the police station.

Less than 2 Inches 

Roadways and trails are only treated; no plowing, which could damage road surfaces.

2-4+ Inches

Plowing generally begins when snow becomes 2-4 inches deep.

After Snowfall

  • Snow crews concentrate on clearing snow from all streets and County trails as soon as possible. Please be advised that bare pavement may not be visible, even after the street has been treated or plowed.
  • Neighborhood streets are cleared last.
  • After a severe snowstorm (greater than 10 inches), it may take 36-48 hours after the snow stops falling before County plows can start clearing residential streets or trails.

Snow Removal Status — Four Key Phases 

Phase 1: Alert and Possible Pretreatment

When – A winter weather storm is forecast for the region.

What the County Does

  • Snow crews are on alert and, when necessary and possible, pretreating roads and designated trails. Wetter and warmer temperatures tend to preclude pretreatment (brine and/or salt).

What You Do

  • Move parked cars off of streets – especially narrow ones – or coordinate with neighbors and/or civic association to move cars to one side of the street only (we recommend the odd side of the street). Snow removal vehicles need at least 15-feet to pass down a street.
  • Stay informed and be prepared. Have at least a three-day supply of food and water.
  • Contact your civic association to find out how you can help your neighbors.

Phase 2: Primary Routes

When – A winter weather storm is in effect. 

  • Roads may only be passable with one lane in each direction. Bare pavement may not be visible yet. Roads may be icy and have accumulations of 2-4 inches or greater.
  • Residential streets are snow covered.

What the County Does

What You Do

  • Do not drive unless necessary so roads will be open for emergency and snow removal vehicles.
  • Help your neighbors clean the sidewalk on the same side of the street as parked cars to increase pedestrian safety.
  • Clear snow from fire hydrants, storm drains and downspouts on your home.

Phase 3: Residential Streets

What the County Does

What You Do

  • If your address is in Phase 2 for snow removal, you can now use our snow issue form to report any snow removal problems.
  • Help neighbors clean the sidewalks. Snow Removal Ordinance enforcement begins 24 hours after the snow stops falling (or 36 hours after if accumulation is more than 6 inches).
  • Clear driveways and entrances.
  • Shovel snow into the yard instead of the street to keep snow removal vehicles from recovering the driveway entrance.
  • Commercial parking lots and sidewalks are the owner’s responsibility.

Phase 4: Clean Up

What the County Does

  • Snow crews are working on clean-up operations. After treatment and the sun has done its work, crews are removing ice and slush off roads and designated County trails.
  • Staff are removing snow from schools and County property.

What You Can Do

  • All addresses within the County may now use the snow issue form to report any snow removal problems.