The snow & ice removal plan

A snow and ice removal plan is used to provide a detailed explanation regarding what snow to clear and what equipment to use for the removal process. This procedure makes it possible to set up an attack plan against snow and ice storms while allowing your teams to reach maximum productivity.


Well-prepared organizations have a written process that they use to respond to a variety of snow and ice events. These range from average accumulations to blizzards and ice storms, which will require a plan in the event of power outages (no fuel will be available) and the need to increase the number of employees dedicated to the task. A proper plan ensures that the equipment will be ready, the routes will be planned, and a dispatcher will be prepared to coordinate all necessary equipment in the appropriate areas.


Do you need to clean the steps leading to the entrances of businesses immediately or should you wait until just before they open? What kind of ice control should you use on steps and doors? How much product should the truck that serves these areas contain, and how much should you use for each type of event, such as snow, ice, or a mixture of snow and ice? How many people are on the crew, who is responsible for the team, and how often does the team have to go to the field?


The snow removal plan must be able to answer all of these questions and foresee all the eventualities. To be able to do so, it must take into account the following factors:

  • Blizzard conditions and long-lasting storms with significant build-up require a disaster response plan that includes preparation for power outages, increased resource capacity, and multi-shift work plans for people and equipment.
  • Frequently, snow removal operators and workers, such as volunteer fire departments and other emergency response organizations that do not schedule shift changes, are required to work long, irregular hours.
  • Emergency response 24/7, even during the holidays (leaving the Thanksgiving table (USA) or the family on Christmas morning)
  • Impassable roads and road accidents
  • Adverse weather conditions, including reduced visibility, below-freezing temperatures, ice storms, and hazardous driving conditions
  • Management of snow crests left by motorized equipment
  • The direction the snow blower chute must face when clearing a sidewalk
  • Ice control: priority sites and choice of material


Best practices for an effective snow & ice removal plan


  1. Make weather planning a priority in your response planning process. Many municipalities even pay for private forecasting services to help them better prepare with up-to-date data and real-time weather forecasts that can change dramatically from hour to hour, including the type / amount of precipitation and the duration of storms.
  2. Have an intervention plan for each storm. For example, a 2-inch midnight storm requires a different response than a 2-inch storm during rush hour.
  3. State your priorities. During heavy snowfall, your top priority should be safety and traffic flow so that vehicles and people can move around the city, especially on busy roads.
  4. Have an emergency plan. Weather forecasts are never 100% accurate. What was to be the storm of the century might end up just being build-up of 2 inches. Meanwhile, a conservative forecast of 2 to 4 inches can turn into a huge foot. Plan to have emergency equipment nearby. Plan to have additional workers and equipment operators on hold. Have additional stocks of de-icing materials and schedule a mechanic for all snow conditions.
  5. Implement managed plowing to reduce the amount of de-icer application needed to melt the remaining ice and snow. De-icing and plowing need to be properly coordinated, as it takes time for the de-icer to become effective.
  6. Upgrade equipment. Equipment must be calibrated and maintained. For de-icer, well maintained and calibrated automatic spreader systems have been shown to reduce unnecessary road salt application by over 40 percent.
  7. Implement precision application. Use new technologies that ensure that the de-icing or anti-icing chemicals are applied at the appropriate rate according to the appropriate method. Application rates are optimized through anti-icing practices, automatic vehicle location (AVL), vehicle-based sensor technologies, RWIS, and Management Decision Support Systems (MDSS).
  8. Use targeted application techniques. Targeted methods reduce the amount of de-icer needed and increase de-icer effectiveness.
    • Windrowing – apply de-icer in a concentrated 4t-to-8ft wide strip down the center line of lesser traveled roads, rather than to the entire surface. The snow melts faster, and the exposed pavement warms and melts the adjacent untreated pavement.
    • Zero-velocity spreaders – “place” de-icer on the road surface with little impact, which minimizes bouncing and waste. By reducing the amount of waste, these spreaders can reduce materials cost by as much as 50 percent.
    • Pre-wetting – the de-icer becomes a melting agent when moisture is added, so pre-wetting can result in faster melting. Apply as brine using a spray delivery system, which also keeps the de-icer on the surface being treated.
  1. Training Program. Implement a continuing education program and maintain up-to-date training modules. Alternative de-icers, use of road salt, application techniques, use of RWIS data, and many more training modules are available from several sources.
  2. Implement, monitor, and evaluate. A comprehensive system should be put in place that facilitates implementation, tracks successes and concerns, and allows for adaptive management.
  3. A written snow removal plan that is continuously updated allows everyone to work from the same point of reference. This creates an organized attack plan to combat a snow or ice storm, which means that you will not have to “improve” as you progress during a storm. This will make your site safer for everyone when bad weather strikes.


Is your snow action plan in place and up to date? Let the Everest team guide your equipment selection to ensure that you have the right equipment to support each element of your snow and ice removal plan, contact us.