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Snow removal and snow emergency information

Snow emergency hotline: 952-563-8768

A snow emergency is called whenever snow in excess of three inches has fallen. The snow emergency remains in effect until the end of the snow event and resulting plowing activities.

During a snow emergency, a parking ban is in effect. Cars may not be parked on the street until the street has been plowed full width.

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The City also posts snow emergencies on its Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Don't let kids tunnel in snow banks

For their safety, children should be instructed to NOT play on these banks or make tunnels in them. Between snowfalls, the City or Hennepin County may remove excess snow from the roadsides using large equipment. This would pose a grave danger to any kids who may be burrowed into snowbanks.

Fire hydrant surrounded by snow

Adopt a fire hydrant and keep it clear of snow

Do a good deed for your community – clear snow away from the fire hydrants near your property. This provides quick access for firefighters and water maintenance and makes it easier to respond efficiently in case of an emergency.

Owners of private hydrants are responsible clearing the snow away from them, and are strongly encouraged to do so, in order to simplify locating the hydrants in an emergency.

Who is responsible for snow removal?

Snow removal is primarily the responsibility of the Street, Park and Facilities Sections in the Public Works Maintenance Division. In addition:

  • Police monitor street conditions and enforce snow-related ordinances.
  • Equipment personnel keep plows ready to operate and conduct quick repairs as necessary during a storm.
  • Utility crews augment Maintenance staff to operate equipment.
  • Residents help by complying with snow-related ordinances and reporting slippery intersections or other unsafe areas they encounter.

Snow plowing facts

Bloomington averages 40 inches of snow per year. The City typically has 10 to 12 plowable snowfalls per year. Each and every "full plow" means clearing snow from:

  • 2,016 lane-miles of road (the distance from here to Mazatlan, Mexico).
  • 250 miles of sidewalks (about the distance to Green Bay, Wisconsin).
  • 512 cul-de-sacs.
  • 33 skating rinks.
  • Every municipal building parking lot and walkway.

The average cost for these services per household is about $10.80 per year.

The strategy used to plow streets, sidewalks and other City facilities depends on the interaction of several factors:

  • Time the snow began.
  • Duration of snowfall.
  • Type of snow - light/dry or wet/heavy.
  • Temperature before and after snowfall.
  • High winds - drifting.
  • Snow accumulation.
  • Available equipment - breakdowns.
  • Available staff.

Anti-icing

To make roads safer before snow falls, the City pre-treats streets with an anti-icing brine solution. The brine solution, a liquid mixture of salt and water that is sprayed on, prevents ice from bonding with street surfaces. Once the liquid solution is sprayed, it evaporates and leaves behind thin lines of salt. The salt prevents the bonding of snow and ice to the street so snowplows can scrape the street clean. This process reduces the amount of salt that needs to be applied when streets are plowed. The anti-icing process leaves several stripes of salt behind, making roads that have recently been de-iced easily identifiable.

Sidewalk plowing

Park Maintenance is responsible for snow removal on over 250 miles of sidewalks throughout the city. We have five sidewalk snow removal units. Removal from a snowfall of 3-5 inches takes approximately four days to complete.

Sidewalks are sorted into three groups.

  • First priority: School walking areas, heavily used wheelchair accessible areas and high use areas by main roads.
  • Second priority: Walks expanding out from the school and along major roads.
  • Third priority: Residential and industrial areas.

If snow falls over a long time period, the City may repeatedly return to priority one areas before clearing lesser-used areas. Residents are asked to be patient in such situations. Crews will complete the job, but it may take two to three weeks, depending on weather conditions.

Plows need to push snow off both sides of a sidewalk. In heavy snowfall, banks along walks may become too high for V-plow snow removal. In this case, snow blowers must be used extending the time for completion by at least 2-3 times. Obstacles in right-of-ways, either on or along sidewalks, i.e. timbers, boulders, shrubs or trash cans, hinder snow removal. The City appreciates your help in maintaining sidewalks and keeping right-of-ways clear of obstacles, so snow can be removed as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Snow plow