Snow plow crews are getting ready for winter. Last week they took part in annual training exercises to make sure new and returning plow drivers are ready to go when the snow starts to fly.
The training includes navigating through an obstacle course. Plow drivers have to be able to maneuver in tight spaces and prove they have the skills they will need on the road. They also learn about the de-icing materials they'll be using and how to maintain the plows if something goes awry on their route. New plow drivers go out with veterans and actually drive the routes they will be clearing .
Colorado Springs gets an average annual snowfall of 42 inches, so these crews are often busy all winter long. They respond to minor and major snowstorms. Last season there were 29 snow events that required at least some plows to be out clearing roads. The first one was on October 10, 2018 and the last one was May 20, 2019.
During a "full call out," 36 to 40 snow plows are on the road, and drivers work 12 hour shifts.
The work starts before the snow starts to fall. When snow is forecasted, crews spread anti-icing materials on main roads. This helps keep ice from building up on the pavement, but the temperature has to be above zero degrees for it to work.
Crews always plow main roads first. They also clear streets that connect neighborhoods to main roads. Weather conditions determine the number of plows on the roads and what type of materials crews use . When the temperature is too cold for deicer, crews spread a mixture of sand and salt to giver drivers traction after the road has been plowed.