How Do You Get Ready for the Perils of Winter Weather?

Oct 27, 2017 | ARTICLE
Laurie Hokkanen, ICMA-CM
City Manager
Victoria, Minnesota

If you don't love winter or live in a place where it occurs, one of the perils to prepare for might not be immediately obvious to you—containing people's excitement!

Folks in Minnesota are anxious to get out on the frozen lakes for ice fishing and other recreation. Sometimes that excitement leads them to make decisions that aren't safe, and we end up with a person or vehicle falling through the ice.

Our public-safety professionals must train for these unfortunate rescue events, while we work hard to prevent them through education and communication.

We use our partner agencies, like the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and local businesses, including resorts and bait shops, to help spread the word about dangerous ice and weather conditions.


Dan Dean, ICMA-CM
City Administrator
Kimball, Nebraska

Kimball's street superintendent is well-organized and proactive, undertaking a review of city performance and resources in April and May, after the final snow event. Snow equipment is removed from the vehicles, and they are inspected for wear, plus needed repairs are undertaken at that time.

Input from the public is also reviewed to identify problem areas. Adjustments to the city's snow removal plan can be incorporated at this time.

Salt supplies are inventoried and new supplies are ordered and stockpiled for the next season. We also review and order supplies like blades and cutting edges. Snow equipment is attached to the trucks no later than November 1.

The superintendent coordinates with other departments to identify which staff members have the proper credentials to operate equipment during an emergency.


Diana Dykstra, ICMA-CM
Village Administrator
Poplar Grove, Illinois

In northern Illinois, we certainly get our share of snow and ice. Planning and preparing makes a big difference in keeping residents safe and costs down.

Each year, we have a staff meeting to review our post-snow season. This meeting is extremely helpful to identify how we did, to pinpoint what went right or wrong, and to discuss potential changes. We also discuss and prepare for salt purchases, route changes, and equipment repairs.

With budget constraints, we are unable to have a clean pavement policy. We do prepare residents with notices on the village's snow removal process that are relayed using utility bills, news outlets, social media, and the village website.

Overall, preparation can make a big difference in our safety and sanity.


Martin Howe, ICMA-CM
City Manager
Clarksburg, West Virginia

In August, we take an inventory of supplies and deicing materials and then begin engaging in contracts for salt and cinder supplies with our providers. In September, we begin preparing all snow removal equipment to insure it's in proper working order, which includes salt spreaders, plows, snow blowers, and 4x4 sidewalk equipment.

New spreaders and plows are ordered. Trucks go through maintenance prior to being equipped. As the fall season approaches, drivers are acclimated to their routes and become familiar with the various areas where they will be operating.

Communication information is updated with the National Weather Service, public and school transportation services, along with others, to insure the city is receiving proper information and sending out the appropriate information to the transportation systems.