By the numbers: Eastern Iowans prepare for heavy snow, blizzard

Blizzard conditions could develop Thursday

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Crews scurried Wednesday to make final preparations for the up to 12 or more inches of snow forecast for Eastern Iowa through tonight.

Here’s a look at some of the resources that will be used.


  •  Equipment: 96 vehicles with plows, including dump trucks, pickups, graders, end loaders and tractors; 36 of the vehicles have spreaders
  •  Crew: 100-plus employees from three departments
  •  Salt/sand on hand: 5,000 tons of salt; 1,000 tons of sand; 1,000 tons of salt/sand mix
  •  Miles of streets: 620-plus miles or 1,600 lane miles*
  •  Timing/strategy: 10,000 gallons of salt brine (10 tons of salt in the mix) applied pre-storm; plowing/spreading begins immediately in big storm
  •  Snow-related budget: Salt budget is $821,674; overtime budget, $108,000


  •  Equipment: Seven plow trucks, two end loaders
  •  Crew: Seven employees
  •  Salt/sand on hand: 600 tons of straight salt; 200 tons of salt/sand mix
  •  Miles of streets: 75 straight miles, 150 lane miles*
  •  Timing/strategy: Drivers leave work at 3:30 p.m. as normal if the storm hasn’t started yet, and get called back in when needed; police notify of deteriorating conditions overnight.
  •  Snow-related budget: Annual budget is $150,000, which covers overtime costs, equipment and supplies. Of that figure, $80,000 is for salt and sand.


  •  Equipment: 12 motor graders and 14 plow trucks
  •  Crew: 28 employees
  • Sand/salt on hand: Under contract for 800 tons of salt this year
  •  Miles of roads: 1,150 miles of gravel and paved roads
  •  Timing/strategy: No plan applies to all storms; will pull plows if there are white-out conditions that make it unable to see and unsafe for employees; with 3 to 4 inches of snow and ideal operations, all roads can be covered once in 10 hours.
  •  Snow-related budget: $440,000


  •  Equipment: 12 snow plows (one for each snow route); end loaders and graders used as back up units.
  •  Crew: 27 employees
  •  Salt/sand on hand: 2,800 tons of salt; 800 tons of salt/sand mix.
  •  Miles of streets: 380 lane miles*
  •  Timing/strategy; Depends on type of precipitation. Examples: Bridges and roads treated with materials in freezing rain; plowing begins after more than 1 inch of snow accumulates
  •  Snow-related budget: $500,000 to $600,000 spent in typical year


  •  Equipment: Three plow/sander trucks, end-loader with plow and wing, four plow-equipped pickups
  •  Crew: Six employees
  •  Salt/sand on hand: 100 tons salt, 200 tons sand (all left over from last winter).
  •  Miles of streets: 40 miles of streets to plow, plus sidewalks and city-owned parking lots.
  •  Timing/strategy: Expected to start at midnight
  •  Snow-related budget: $70,000


  •  Equipment: 900 snowplow trucks, each equipped with a material spreading system to dispense both liquid and dry de-icing materials
  •  Crew: 1,200 snowplow operators, mechanics and supervisors at 110 maintenance garages
  •  Salt/sand on hand: 200,000 tons of rock salt stored at 113 delivery points is used each winter; more than 12 million gallons of salt brine has been used in 10 years.
  •  Miles of roads: 9,000 miles of highways, many multilane, which figures out to about 24,700 lane-miles.*
  •  Timing/strategy: Plows typically operate 24 hours a day, but the more than 65,000 combinations of winter storms that can hit Iowa pose unique problems.
  •  Snow-related budget: $35 million (2007, latest year available)


  •  Equipment: 171 snow removal trucks, eight motor graders, 20 end loaders, 16 snowblower attachments
  •  Crew: 193 employees
  •  Salt/sand on hand: 45,100 tons of salt; 11,385 tons of sand; nearly 3.9 million gallons of salt brine and calcium chloride at 16 garages
  •  Miles of roads: 1,476 miles of highways and ramps with a total of 4,128 lane miles* in Benton, Buchanan, Cedar, Clinton, Delaware, Dubuque, Iowa, Jackson, Johnson, Jones, Linn and Scott counties.
  •  Timing/strategy: See state if Iowa entry
  •  Budget: Not available Wednesday


  •  Equipment: 18 tandem axle dump trucks, equipped with a front plow; 11 motor graders that can push snow on gravel roads.
  •  Crew: 33 employees something breaks down.
  •  Salt/sand on hand: Each truck can carry 15 tons, but they won’t have full loads for this storm because of the winds expected.
  •  Miles of roads: More than 800 miles, including 250 miles of paved roads and 570 miles of gravel roads
  •  Timing/strategy: Primary trucks slated to head out around 4 p.m. today; motor graders will be sent out if 4 inches or more accumulates on gravel roads,
  •  Snow-related budget: Not immediately available, but resources are abundant after last year’s mild winter.


  • Equipment: Five large plow/sanding trucks, two pickups with plows, one tractor with a 10-foot plow, one end loader and one road maintainer with a wing. Also hire tandem trucks to haul snow out of the 22-block downtown area.
  •  Crew: 10 employees
  •  Sand/salt on hand: 400 tons of salt; 200 tons of sand/salt/calcium chloride combo
  •  Miles of streets: 35 miles of streets, 15 miles of alleys (also clear some sidewalks)
  •  Timing/strategy: Expecting to start plowing at 2 a.m. today and likely will continue 12 to 14 hours today, 12 to 14 hours on Friday and some cleanup on Saturday
  •  Snow-related budget: $100,000


  •  Equipment: Five large plows and sanders, two small ones, an end loader with a blade on the front, a road grader with a wing on it that will likely be used tonight, and an 8-foot snowblower for high-drift areas.
  •  Crew: Seven employees
  •  Salt/sand on hand: About 650 tons of salt and about the same amount of sand/salt mix.
  •  Miles of streets: 148 miles
  •  Timing/strategy: Probably work until 10 p.m. last night, and then some of the crew will go home; those workers will relieve overnight workers at 3 a.m. and then the whole crew will be out in full force early in the morning.
  •  Snow-related budget: Around $50,000 for sand and salt and $25,000 for overtime.

* One mile of one lane of road equals one lane mile

Curated by Gazette staff; Sources: City streets, county road departments, Iowa Department of Transportation

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