Snow season runs from Nov. 15 to March 15. Spokane sees most of its snowfall during these four months of the year, with snow often concentrated in December and January. During Snow Season, the City monitors weather conditions 24 hours a day. Crews proceed with regular winter operations until it snows and plowing operations are triggered.
The City of Spokane is fortunate to experience each and every season. In winter, that means we must make preparations to manage snow and ice on our streets and sidewalks. This letter is intended to keep you informed and get you ready for winter!
Property owners and residents are responsible for maintaining a clear pedestrian pathway on the sidewalk adjacent to their properties at all times. The goal is to create a pedestrian path that is accessible to and safe for all. When clearing your sidewalk, ask yourself whether a wheelchair could pass or a child holding the hand of her parent.
Please be aware that during certain snow event conditions, notice will be given and downtown parking will be prohibited between midnight and 6 a.m. to allow City crews to clear snow from parking bays and streets in the downtown core. In these times, there will be no on-street parking, even for residential parking permit holders and for those individuals with handicap placards. Below is a map that details parking areas that the City has made available for these groups to use during these snow event circumstances. Parking in these areas will be free between 7:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. After that, the areas will revert to normal use.
Snow Event Parking Map (Midnight to 6:00 a.m.)
Snow response is a collaboration between the City and its citizens. Below, please find a series of frequently asked questions to get you all the details about the City’s snow response efforts.
When is the “Snow Season?”
The snow season runs from Nov. 15 to March 15. Spokane sees most of its snowfall during these four months of the year, with snow often concentrated in December and January. During Snow Season, the City monitors weather conditions 24 hours a day. Crews proceed with regular winter operations until it snows and plowing operations are triggered.
What is the plan for plowing when it snows?
When it snows, even if it’s just an inch or two, crews will plow all the streets, including residential streets. This “maintenance plow” work will occur primarily during regular day shifts Monday through Friday. Crews from the City’s water and wastewater utilities will supplement Street crews for plowing efforts sooner, and more equipment will be available on a regular basis for plowing.
Arterials are plowed first, followed by hills in residential areas. Identified vehicle routes around schools also have been prioritized for clearing.
What happens when it snows a lot?
During a larger snowfall of four inches or more, crews will move to 24/7 operations to complete a full-City plow. The Street Department also will call in private contractors to assist with plowing efforts. With more personnel available from other departments, private contractors and more equipment, crews expect to be able to complete that plow in three days, down from four in previous plans.
What’s the Snow Corridor Plan?
When crews cannot effectively keep arterials clear because of weather conditions, they will use the existing Snow Corridor Plan. Crews will concentrate on identified routes that citizens can rely on until conditions improve. The routes are signed.
What happens in Downtown?
In downtown on snowy days, on-street parking will be prohibited between midnight at 6 a.m. so parking bays can be plowed out. New signs will be installed in the downtown, indicating this rule within the boundaries of Maple to Division and I-90 to the Spokane River. Notification of those parking restrictions will be sent to media and available through 3-1-1. The City has some parking options for snow days under the freeway, particularly for those with residential parking passes in the core.
Snow will be plowed to the middle of street in downtown Spokane, but City crews plan to pick up those middle berms as they are being created.
What about sidewalks?
Citizens and businesses must keep their sidewalks shoveled. The City is asking citizens to clear a 36-inch path to allow pedestrians to travel effectively, with a goal of completion by 9 a.m. after a snowfall. Citizens also are asked to clear a pedestrian path even if no sidewalk exists. It’s about being a good neighbor. By City ordinance, adjacent property owners are responsible for keeping the sidewalks clear and safe, and liability issues rest with the adjacent property owner, not the City. Seniors or disabled individuals who can’t maintain their own sidewalks can call 3-1-1 to get information on volunteer services.
Why is it important to keep sidewalks clear?
Sidewalks are an important mode of travel for many of Spokane’s citizens. Our children use them to get to school and to their bus stops. Many people use them to reach Spokane Transit Authority stops and to get basic supplies at grocery stores and other locations. Icy and snow-packed sidewalks are dangerous and often leave people to walk to their destinations in the street.
What do crews do when plowing isn’t needed?
During the snow season, the City changes its street operations to accommodate the ice and snow of Inland Northwest winters. Street crews switch to 10-hour shifts, covering 20-hours a day, 7 days a week. Weather is monitored continuously for changing conditions. Crews spread de-icer, clean up problem areas, and perform related tasks to improve driving conditions and keep citizens safe.
Why do we need to restrict parking?
Restricting parking during snow emergencies allows plow drivers to clear away more snow, widening the area available for cars, trucks and buses and generally improving drivability for motorists. In the downtown, parking restrictions also allow the City to clear snow from parking spaces, allowing for easier parking for customers. In residential areas, limiting parking to one side of the street allows plow drivers to move away from the curb, reducing the amount of snow and ice that ends up on sidewalks.
In advance of the snow season, citizens must move all recreational vehicles, boats, and trailers off the street to winter storage locations. These vehicles will be towed if they aren’t moved by Nov. 15. Basketball hoops are another obstacle that should be moved from the right of way.
What happens in Browne’s Addition?
Unlike in previous years, Browne’s Addition will be treated like any other neighborhood. Citizens are asked to park on the odd side of the street for the entire snow season. Rather than setting special parking restrictions for Browne’s Addition, the City will use smaller equipment in the area to complete plowing activities.
What is the City doing to help keep snow off of sidewalks?
Changed plowing techniques will help alleviate snow pushed onto sidewalks. Crews will plow away from the curb somewhat to help keep snow away from driveway and sidewalks. Snow also may be pushed to center medians in some cases. The City also is committing to maintaining the sidewalks adjacent to its properties to improve pedestrian passage.
How is the City going to communicate with citizens?
The City will provide information before and during the snow season, sharing information with the local media and through a variety of communication tools from social media to CityCable 5 to the City’s web site. Staff will update online plowing maps at www.spokanecity.org more frequently during 24/7 operations to give citizens better information. Plow routes in residential neighborhoods have been named to coincide with City’s neighborhoods to make it easier for people to understand where plows are.
How can a citizen report a problem?
Citizens can call 3-1-1 to report a problem. (Outside of the City limits, call 509.755.CITY (2489))
How does the City prepare for winter operations?
Each fall, the City tunes up the truck plows, graders, de-icers, and sanders in preparation for winter weather. We attach the plow blades to our trucks, make sure we have ready supplies of de-icer and sand, and ensure that contracts are in place with private contractors who can supplement our plow crews when needed. We step up monitoring of winter weather and are prepared to change our shifts. This year, bought additional snow gates to reduce driveway berms and additional front-end loaders for snow removal.
What can citizens do?
For a successful snow season, citizens and businesses need to do their part.
What will happen during future years?The City will continue to evaluate its experiences and those of our citizens during the snow season. We’ll continue to refine our plans as needed to keep improving our response to winter weather.