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Fort Dodge prepares snowstorm response

December 19, 2012
By PETER KASPARI ( , Messenger News

With a large snowstorm expecting to hit Iowa today, cities are making sure they have everything ready to go if large snowfall occurs.

In Fort Dodge, Director of Public Works Greg Koch said his department is monitoring the weather forecasts to plan their response to a potential snowstorm.

"That pretty much drives what we plan as far as our equipment and staff," he said. "The challenge is that a lot of times, the forecast can change. Right now we have an idea that there is the potential for 6 1/2 inches of snow, but we won't know for sure until tomorrow."

Koch said the city is planning on putting staff on what they refer to as priority routes between 6 p.m. and midnight today.

Priority routes include 42 residential snow routes.

"We'll be focusing on clearing those roads," he said. "As forecasts change, we may have to adjust our plans depending on what mother nature gives us."

Koch added that depending on what is being predicted, that will also change how the Public Works Department handles snow removal.

"This forecast is calling for rain tomorrow, which changes how we do anti-icing," Koch said Tuesday. "We usually put a salt, brine and beach use mix on the street surface, but the rain will wash that material off the streets."

To compensate for that, Koch said the department will pre-wet the salt with the mixture.

When snow does fall, Koch said people should pay attention to snow ordinances being issued for the snow routes.

"When a snow emergency is declared, there's no parking on the snow routes," he said. "Our objective is not to tow people, but if they're parked on a snow route and we're unable to get the snow pushed out of the way, we'll call the Police Department and have them tow the vehicle."

Koch said snow emergencies are generally issued when at least three inches of snow are expected to accumulate.

When the department sends out snow removal trucks depends on several factors, including observing the weather.

"If we know we're going to get six inches, but there's already two inches on the street and it's falling at an inch an hour, we'll send out the trucks," he said. "Every snowstorm's different. You have to react differently to each one."

Koch also recommended that drivers pay attention to the weather.

"I want to remind everyone to really drive safely, because conditions are going to get slick," he said. "We do treat bridges and priority roads, but that doesn't mean there won't be hazardous conditions. Be a little more cautious than you normally are."

He also asked drivers to stay out of the way of snowplow trucks.

"Ease of the back of it and allow the truck to perform its duties," he said. "Be patient and drive carefully. Those are they keys to avoiding accidents."



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