General Question

flo's avatar

Is snow clearing after a snow storm an essential service?

Asked by flo (10350points) December 30th, 2016

If the snow fell just before new years day, should there be shift working city workers doing the clearing or should it be left till after Jan 1st or second or whatever date? What is the no brainer thing?

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24 Answers

Zaku's avatar

Depends on the city and the amount of snow and weather prediction. Personally, I like my city to do nothing and let people have a break from routine until it melts, since snow rarely lasts more than a day or two here.

imrainmaker's avatar

It’s an emergency thing I guess if it’s heavy.. Would you like to leave anything that can be hazardous as it is because of holidays?

jca's avatar

Snow clearing is essential. Ambulances and other emergency vehicles need there to be clear roads in order to do their jobs. A paramedic friend told me that if people live at the top of a hill and the roads are covered with snow, they have to wait for the roads to be cleared before the ambulance can get to the house. Think of what the implications could be.

If people try to get out to work and their cars are crashing, think of what that could mean.

dappled_leaves's avatar

I agree with @Zaku. It depends on the city, the snowfall, and how unusual the snowfall is compared to regular snowfall. If it is a city where significant snowfall is a regular occurrence, then holiday snow removal is probably already factored into the city’s budget. In Montreal, for example, a heavy snowfall could cripple the city for weeks if it were not removed – and we are accustomed to having it removed right away. We get heavy snowfalls very frequently.

In a city like Calgary, people are more accustomed to removing their own snow, they have larger vehicles, and their weather is such that a rare heavy snow event will be followed by warm weather that melts the snow. It’s far less worthwhile for them to bring in snow removal crews on a holiday, so they likely won’t. In such a situation, they’d be sure to clear the highways, but leave the smaller streets for a while to see what happens.

Cruiser's avatar

From what I have observed over the years is there are drivers on call 24/7 including all holidays. With heavy snowfalls only main roads will get plowed to as @jca pointed out that emergency vehicles will have a chance to get around. Roads in and around Fire/Police stations will be plowed first as will hospitals. Municipalities really take a hit when a storm dumps on a holiday as they often will have to pay double even triple overtime and drivers are very eager to have a chance at that extra pay.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Your question, and the answer, is debatable.

Let’s just say that more than one politician has lost his job because snow removal did not take place.

Think 1982 – Denver – “read this:“

Mayor Bill McNichols lost his job the following year because he had so botched up Denver’s preparation for snow removal – people were stuck overnight at malls. What was McNichols solution? Wait for the sun to come out.

Bad snow removal has led to politican angst in Washington, Baltimore, article and even Cleveland and Chicago.

So politicians – at least ones who desire to keep their jobs -tend to err on the side of having plows ready.

Cruiser's avatar

The Snowpocalypse of 1979 cost a Chicago mayor his re-election.

filmfann's avatar

Public service agencies usually have a skeleton crew available for hazards like this.
@jca is right. You need to keep the roads clear for ambulances, fire trucks, and the police.

Pandora's avatar

You may feel differently if your house was on fire and fire trucks couldn’t make it to your home in time or to the home of a loved one. Plus, having lived in a state that never got snow but was shut down for a few days was no picnic either. We had to wait for the snow to melt. There were people who still had to go to work and their travel was hazardous. We always got a few cars stuck in ditches or people killed because the roads were not cleared. At night the snow that did melt would become icy.
It’s nice to believe people wouldn’t have to go to work, but hospitals and all other emergency services still have to run. Many people rely on a daily income and it is lost pay for them. They also don’t look at snow as all fun and games since they can’t pay their bills on that.
Illness, hunger, homelessness, accidents, fires and power outages, do not take a snow holiday.
It’s also harder to plow snow that has become a hard chunk of ice.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Don’t move to North Carolina, we had a storm a couple of years ago. It was over 5 inches. 4 or 5 days later the city sent out a road grader to clear the center of the residential streets. There was no school for a week.

JLeslie's avatar

Snow clearing is essential on main arteries and near hospitals, fire department, and police departments.

Some cities have almost no budget for snow clearing and get paralyzed. When that happens bad things can and sometimes do happen. Ambulances don’t get to heart attack patients in time, babies are born at home or in cars, revenue and in turn tax money is hampered.

If the city has the money and resources I would say at least some hours would be put in to clear the snow even if it is just before New Years. I would think making the roads safe for New Years is pretty important. People will likely try to travel.

Probably some employees don’t mind doing some hours on the 30th or 31st. New Years isn’t celebrated by the vast majority of the population as much as Thanksgiving and Christmas. I used to work Christmas Eve to get New Year’s Day off.

kritiper's avatar

Businesswise, as essential as mowing the lawn or raking the leaves. Off the street, that is. What you refer to is a matter of need and overtime pay rates. When I had to work on holidays years ago, I got double time and ½.

JLeslie's avatar

^^I’m pretty sure there aren’t any laws requiring time and a half on holidays. Not at the federal level anyway. A lot of people work the holidays and get nothing special. I wonder if most snowplow operators get extra pay on holidays?

jca's avatar

@JLeslie: Snow plow guys who work for municipalities most likely work under a contract and then would get OT and other compensations for working outside of their regular shifts. If someone works for a landscaping company and does plowing, they get whatever their boss offers them.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Not if you don’t care whether or not all the other essential services function. For example, cops, ambulances, power line workers, the marajuana delivery boy… and how are all those poor New Year’s drunks celebrants suppose to get home without sliding into each other?

Pandora's avatar

@Tropical_Willie That is where I use to live. It sucked when it snowed.

JLeslie's avatar

^^I lived in NC for a couple of years. First winter I was there, the first snow, that morning rush hour there was reported as over 70 cars skidded off the road or in accidents. When I drove to work I indeed saw cars off the road left and right. I had never seen anything like it. One, time years later, in Memphis I saw something similar, but Memphis cleared the snow and treated the roads in general a little better than Raleigh.

Luckily, in Raleigh, my husband worked in a place he could stay home and work if he wanted too. He doesn’t like to do that, but he started to once we saw commuters sliding around corners and going off the road right in front of us.

Pandora's avatar

^^ If you thought Raleigh was bad, try living out on the coast in a small town with huge ditches on the right and left with lots of curvy roads. That was a blast. The winds from the coast line made it easier for it to freeze over and the forest prevented the sun from clearing it off. I had to drive to Raleigh once to pick up my son at the airport after it had snowed. What was normally a 2.5 hour drive or 5 hours round trip, took the whole day. The whole ride up and down my husband was white knuckle driving and I was grabbing the door handle for dear life. Raleigh roads were not too bad. They clear the roads around 95 but not going to the coast. The worst where the hills. We could get up them but coming down was a slippery nightmare. There was a lot of ice and slush. We were lucky if we could do about 30 mph. I thought we were never get home. We saw a tracker trailer turned over in the ditch on 70.
But I will say the worst I ever saw was in Georgia as we flew into the airport. That was a nightmare.

Darth_Algar's avatar

It’s absolutely essential. Society cannot function if the roads are impassable.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Welcome to North Carolina @Darth_Algar !

IT doesn’t function.

flo's avatar

I just want to answer @Pandora before I go on reading all the answers:
“You may feel differently if your house was on fire and fire trucks couldn’t make it to your home in time or to the home of a loved one.” I didn’t mean to imply that I don’t think it’s essential. See my tags hazardous conditions, icy sidewalks , ...

flo's avatar

Thanks all. I forgot to add if the forecast is *“snow would turn to ice…”(on the holiday date)

I thought it would be shift work related just like hospitals, and that overtime pay would be for the 2nd shift within in 24 hrs, (and only if there is no one available among the on call and permanent partimers if it’s outside their regular shifts) no matter what date it is, something like that.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Welcome to North Carolina, there is a forecast of frozen precipitation starting Friday. There is a run on white bread and milk.

As one of my southern friends says, “Milk Sammiches.” Must be a survival food.

Maybe a flurry or less than a ¼ inch of ice.

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