December 30, 2009

Christmas storm dumps 9 inches of snow

By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer

If you were wishing for a white Christmas and you ended up stranded or shoveling, you may think twice before wishing for the same next year.
The Christmas Blizzard of 2009 left all of North Dakota with a white Christmas and lots of work. McKenzie County received plenty of snow and wind. However, the area was fortunate compared to the central and eastern portions of the state.
Snowfall accumulations totaling more than 9 inches have left Watford City’s residents and City personnel busy removing snow from the streets and sidewalks.
“This was quite a lot of snow,” says Dick Fischer of Watford City. “I think it’s the most we’ve gotten in one day sine 1996.”
It looks like the worst snowstorm for 2009 has passed leaving only the cleanup behind. But now it’s time to look ahead to 2010 and the National Weather Service is suggesting that we may be in for more snow and wind during the New Year’s holiday.
The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather outlook Tuesday, Dec. 29 through Sunday, Jan. 3. Forecasters are calling for daytime highs in the single digits with lows dropping to the teens below zero. In addition to the cold, snow is possible for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day making for slower travel conditions.
Whether it’s an inch of snow or a foot of snow, the City of Watford City has plans in place for all snow scenarios. The City’s snow and ice removal plan provides flexibility and policies that allow the streets to be maintained to provide safe and efficient conditions for vehicle and pedestrian travel in Watford City. The snow plan attempts to provide as much flexibility as possible while keeping the needs of the public in mind.
“Residents, especially businesses, can assist in making wintertime travel easier for everyone by keeping their walks as clear as possible,” says Lowell Cutshaw, Watford City city engineer/administrator.                                                                                             “This means clearing snow from sidewalks along frontages, side yards and on vacant properties that they own and not plowing snow from driveways and parking lots onto city streets. Everyone’s cooperation in this regard is greatly appreciated.”
Snow removal operations for normal snow accumulations of three to six inches begin when snowfall has ended or emergency routes become impassable. Once emergency routes, airport, main business areas and school streets have been cleared, residential clearing will begin starting with the heaviest accumulations and traffic flow areas.
Light snow accumulations of less than three inches will be attended to by sanding where needed and airport maintenance as needed.
Heavy snow accumulations of more than six inches or high winds may require a longer snow removal waiting time in some areas because priority will be given to emergency routes. At this time, private contractors may be utilized with a primary emphasis on keeping streets passable until the emergency is over, then normal operations will continue.
To provide clearing of emergency routes, main business and high school areas, vehicles are prohibited to park overnight in these designated areas. If parked overnight, they will be towed and impounded at the owner’s expense. To find out if you live on an emergency route, you can call the city at 444-2533.
Emergency routes are to be cleared first to assure access to the hospital, fire hall, and to ensure emergency vehicles can enter and exit the city.
Watford City residents are urged to do their part to help out with snow removal. Property owners are required to remove or sand accumulations of ice and snow within 24 hours of ice formation or snowfall.
“The city is not responsible for plowing driveways,” says Cutshaw. “This is a question that we get every winter, and it is a service that we just can’t provide.”
Snow removal can be completed more efficiently if vehicles are removed from the streets before snow removal operations begin. Vehicles parked on streets when snow is removed should be moved as soon as possible to allow crews to clean up ridges left in the street.
Driveways and mailboxes may become inaccessible due to snow removal operations. When this occurs, it is the responsibility of the property owner to remove the snow without putting it back into the street.
Residential areas and businesses with a parking lot are not allowed to put snow from sidewalks, driveways, or parking lots in the street.
Business and school areas with no storage space between the building and sidewalk for snow storage, may plow snow off the sidewalk and into the street for city removal.
The public may contact City Hall at 444-2533 during regular business hours or the Watford City Police Department at 444-2400 after hours for snow removal requests.