Although the lack of snow and cold yet this winter are leaving many Apple Valley residents unable to participate in their favorite winter activities, the warm temperatures have reduced the cost of snow and ice removal for the city, while simultaneously minimizing car accidents.
“It has a lot of advantages,” said Apple Valley Director Todd Blomstrom, in reference to the unseasonable weather. “We’re saving money.”
In 2011, the city spent approximately $330,000 of its $357,000 snow and ice removal budget, said Blomstrom and Public Works Superintendent Mike Glewwe, leaving about $27,000 in excess funds for the Apple Valley City Council to decide how to use.
In 2010, however, the city overspent its $359,000 budget by $42,000.
These numbers correlate to the amount of snow that fell. In November and December 2010, Apple Valley . In November and December 2011, the city experienced a more manageable nine snowfalls and nine inches of snow.
This year, Apple Valley has a $390,000 snow and ice removal budget, which was increased to compensate for the rising cost of road salt.
Winter road maintenance is no small feat. The city owns 34 pieces of plow equipment, including 12 dump truck-style plows. There are 175 miles of streets that need to be plowed in Apple Valley, which adds up to approximately 400 miles when the plows drive lane by lane.
Snow and ice removal occurs when it snows at least two inches or if conditions are particularly slippery. For every two inches of snowfall, about 32 city workers are dispatched.
It typically takes 10 hours for the city to clear five inches of snow.
During warmer winters, the time and energy spent on snow and ice removal is used to perform other city maintenance tasks, such as tree trimming, Blomstrom said.
There is also an environmental benefit to snowless winters, he said, because they reduce the amount of road chemicals the city uses.
Mild weather also has seemed to make roads safer for Apple Valley’s drivers, as well.
In November and December 2010, there were 225 car crashes in Apple Valley. In 2011, there were 155 within the same timeframe.
Spurts of car crash activity occur around snow events, said Jon Rechtzigel, acting chief of the . These crashes mostly are the result of inhibited visibility caused by snow piles and snow on car windows, and reduced traction, he said.
“Both are a serious factor,” Rechtzigel said.
Fortunately, there is a way for Apple Valley residents to reduce their likelihood of injury—and it’s effective in both snowstorms and sunshine.
“People have to remember to buckle up,” Rechtzigel said.