By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News
Snow plow operators dreaming of a ?White Christmas? were taking bets on when the first snowfall of the season would be. Up until Sunday, Dec. 24, they were wrong every time, ?which made the rest of us happy,? joked Jake Hotchkiss, Henry County Engineer.
Operators set out at 4 a.m. on Christmas Eve to begin clearing the snow. Mt. Pleasant Public Works Director Rick Mullin said he didn?t know if residents were unprepared for the inclement weather or if it was just the holidays with many cars left on the street. Mullin wanted to remind people to pay attention to the weather, and if snow is in the forecast, to move their car off the street five or six hours before it hits to make it easier for plows to clear.
?If they would have their cars parked in the driveways, it helps a lot (with snow removal),? Mullin said.
Christmas weekend was just a warm up, however, with more snow in the forecast in time for the New Year. Mullin said the snow plows are fully repaired and ready to go, adding that there are always breakdowns somewhere along the line.
During a snowstorm, Mullin said there are a minimum of seven snow plows on the roads and one inloader used mostly to remove snow from the square in Mt. Pleasant. The equipment is usually ready by Dec. 1, standing by for winter.
Residents need to be aware of snow plow equipment when it is out clearing streets, Mullin said. He said that a lot of people like to follow directly behind a snow plow, but they end up in a blind spot. ?They need to stay back 50 feet like the signs say on the plows,? he said.
?Just because you see yellow lights doesn?t mean you need to see what it is,? Mullin added.
Hotchkiss said that the primary concern for snow removal is paved roads. The departments monitor the roads on weekends and holidays, with typical hours of operation from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m., depending on snow storms.
For gravel roads, which are considered secondary, they assess the situation and decide how urgent it is to clear. Take this weekend for example. With Christmas on Monday, the Henry County Engineering and Road Department waited until Tuesday, Dec. 26 to clear the gravel roads.
?With that type of snow we had, the feeling was we could wait until Tuesday because of the minor amount,? Hotchkiss said.
Hotchkiss reminded that gravel roads tend to be slicker and salt products can?t be used to clear them. When it comes to gravel roads, the initial effort will be to get all routes open to one lane travel as quickly as possible and regular snow removal will occur during normal working hours from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
If there is much blowing snow, snow plows may be called off until conditions improve for both paved and gravel roads.