Auburn crews work round-the-clock during snowstorm

For the young and the young at heart, falling snow is great stuff, promising fun, snowball fights and snowball forts.

But for the men and women whom the city of Auburn employs to keep the roads open and clear when the snow falls, it means hard work ahead.

Here’s how it went for the latter during and after last weekend’s snowfall, according to Kalyn Brady, communications manager for the city.

City crews switched to 12-hour shifts on Friday, Feb. 12, and continued on this 24-hour shift cycle until mid-day Monday, Feb. 15, applying a total of 14,500 gallons of brine to city roadways to prevent ice from forming on the roads. This is a salt-water mixture that the city applies before an anticipated weather event if conditions are right. If roadways are wet, de-icer will wash away and is not effective, so the public works crews are not always able to use this resource. But in this instance, crew were able to apply it in advance.

After snow begins to fall, Brady said the city’s practice is to take a two-pronged approach to clearing roadways. This includes plowing and applying a sand-salt mixture on top of the snow to help speed melting and provide traction. During last week’s snow event, crews applied 402 cubic yards of the 50% sand/50% salt mix.

“For this event in particular, because snow began in the evening hours and temperatures remained very low during that early snowfall, a compact layer of snow and ice formed between Friday night and Saturday morning. This provided an extra challenge to city crews because plows are not able to break through that layer until it begins to warm,” Brady said.

When temperatures began to rise mid-day Saturday, Feb. 13, crews were able to plow to the roadway surface on most city streets and roads. Additionally, because of the short duration of the event, crews focused on snow route arterials to ensure that emergency personnel and the bulk of travelers were able to move through the city.

“Because snow continued to fall throughout the event with very little ‘down time,’ crews focused their efforts on continuing to clear these primary roads. We were able to begin servicing secondary roads later in the event, but temperatures rose quickly once the snow stopped and many areas cleared on their own,” Brady said.