Snow Plows Use Low Snow Totals to Continue Work and Maintain Revenue

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Grand Island, NE -- Snow fall totals in Grand Island are well below average this year, which is good news to more than just school teachers.

Grand Island has seen such little snow that snow plows haven't even had to go out this winter. But that doesn't mean that the street division isn't keeping busy.

Grand Island has seen 4.8 inches of snow this season, well below the the average of 11.5 inches by this time.

Street Superintendent Shannon Callahan said this winter has been great for her department because they've only had to send out salt trucks five times.

The Street Division said they can get plenty of work done during the winter when they're not worrying about snow.

"We're able to go out and clean ditches, clean some detention cells and this weather really is perfect for that kind of work. It freezes every once and a while so the ground's frozen so we can get out equipment down there without making as big of a mess as we normally would and the dirt's soft enough that we can pull it out and hall it right away," said Callahan.

She said when there are long predictions of good weather they can do bigger projects.

With snow totals 6.7 inches below average this Winter, this dry spell is impacting the wallets of plow drivers and companies, but not negatively.

Tom's Tree Service in Grand Island uses snow removal to supplement their business in the winter.

"It's kind of a fill-in for we don't have tree work. If it snows a lot we go out and move. We've been moving snow about 43 years. Started with a shovel, now we got loaders, and pickups, and tractors and bobcats," said Tom Ummel, owner of Tom's Tree Service.

However he said they can't rely on snow to make money.

"We depended on snow and, like this year and even last year, we'd probably starve if we counted on that snow," said Ummel.

The city agreed that their plow drivers are not losing money because they keep busy.

Callahan said, "Our plow drivers are the guys that you see in the summer that do concrete work and asphalt work and sign work. We all multitask here, everybody needs to know how to do everything and they can be asked to do anything and I think the guys are really good about that."

Another problem that plow companies face is that their equipment will become damaged if it sits and is unused for too long. Luckily, however, most plow companies find ways around this issue.

"You really try to get equipment that you can use all the time because the number one thing that makes equipment go downhill quickly is just sitting idle. So all of our dump trucks, those are our plow trucks." said Callahan.

The budget for snow plows was not being used for the other projects the city is undertaking because they want to be safe.

Callahan said, "You don't want to really plan on using that money for other things until you're really through the winter because it's only the middle of January and, you know, we've had some March snowfalls, some early April big snowfalls so I think until we really get into the summer months, we'll keep that money there just in case we need to spend it."

Ummel said although he doesn't love snow, we need it here in Nebraska.

He said, "We need the snow, we really do. The farmers and everybody needs the snow. I'd like to see it snow but if it don't it don't, you know, what can we say or do?"