Wichita's Snow Removal Process
No one likes to get up and drive to work in the snow. Fortunately for Wichitans, the City of Wichita team gets that, and they’re totally on top of taking care of the snow, even before it starts! Check out the city’s snow removal procedures here to learn how the process works!
Tracking the Trucks
The first thing you need to know that the City of Wichita offers an online tracker that allows citizens to check the progress on the city’s 61 snow plow trucks. Pretty cool, right? The operates 24/7 during the winter, giving real-time updates on the plows even when the weather is great and no action is needed on their part.
The application combines the use of AVL and GPS tracking with a Google map to enable users to view the location of each snow plow truck. A color-coded index key on the site explains the current state of each truck, detailing whether a truck is stopped, idling, or moving. If it is moving, this key will also provide details the truck’s speed. The tracking map also shows where each of the trucks has been for the past 15 minutes, hour or 24 hours allowing citizens an idea of what streets have been cleared. Though the trails that indicate the route of each truck are colored, this has no significance. Rather, it serves simply as a way to distinguish one route from the next.
Shoveling and Spreading
You’ve probably seen a snow response truck out when there was no snow to be found. This is a somewhat common sight during the winter in Wichita, and the city’s snow response trucks are outfitted not only with plows to remove snow, but also with spreaders. Spreaders enable the trucks to distribute deicing material. The trucks are often dispatched prior to inclement weather for this purpose.
“Use of the mounted plows depends on a number of factors, including actual and projected temperatures, actual and projected snowfall totals, actual and projected snowfall rates, actual and projected wind speeds, etc. Decisions to plow are not taken lightly, as it is a much slower process than spreading material only, and also serves to remove any previously placed deicing material from the road surface,” said Aaron Henning, a maintenance engineer with the city. “While there is no hard and fast rule, and the conditions and challenges are unique to each storm, I would estimate that, on average, we begin plowing when roughly 2 inches of snow has accumulated.”
During potentially significant events, all 61 of the city’s snow plow trucks are dispatched. However, when the need is not as great, fewer than 15 trucks may be deployed.
According to Henning, snow response operations are particularly hard on the City’s equipment. Because of this, the City maintains 10 additional snow response trucks that rotate in and out of operation as mechanical issues arise.
Snow Plow Routes
Each of Wichita’s snow response trucks follows a predetermined route.
“Primary snow emergency streets are designated by ordinance. They are organized into routes that seek to best balance priorities of efficiency, traffic volume, proximity to emergency responders and providers and operational efficiency,” Henning said.