Winter just won’t go away

The tree’s blossoms and the green grass contrast nicely with the snow and gray sky that indicate spring is close, but winter is making one last statement, in this photo taken in front of First United Methodist Church in North Platte on Tuesday.

In general, North Platte’s most critical streets are most regularly plowed during winter snowstorms under a city policy adopted in 1980 and most recently updated in 2003.

The following streets account for the vast majority of the city’s snow routes, though short stretches of other streets also may bear the designation:

» East-west: State Farm Road, Walker Road and Eugene Avenue (within city limits), East Halligan Drive, West Leota and Francis streets, Philip Avenue, B and E streets, West A Street (west of Willow Street), Fourth and Ninth streets, West Front Street and Rodeo Road/East 12th Street (U.S. Highway 30).

» North-south: Buffalo Bill and Carr avenues, McDonald Road, Oak and Willow streets, Jeffers and Dewey streets (U.S. Highway 83), South Cottonwood and North Poplar streets and Bryan and Bicentennial avenues.

Depending on the type and amount of winter precipitation, city crews are employed according to the following priorities:

» Phase 1: Sand, salt or both will be applied starting with overpasses, bridges and “signalized intersections” once snow or freezing rain starts to fall. Applications will continue until all snow routes have been run and will be repeated as needed.

» Phase 2: Snowplows first will clear streets on numbered highways (U.S. 83 and 30) and streets where parking is banned all the time.

» Phase 3: Plowing of the city’s remaining snow routes will follow. A “snow alert” will be declared to give residents time to move parked vehicles off city streets, followed by a “snow emergency.”

If snow falls suddenly and heavily enough, a snow emergency may be declared without a previous snow alert, according to the city policy.

Vehicles remaining on snow routes after a snow emergency is declared may be ticketed and fined $35. Vehicles not moved after ticketing will be towed, with their owners charged for towing and storage costs.

The police chief and public service director decide together whether to call a snow emergency, based on National Weather Service forecasts of at least 2 to 6 inches of snow, blizzard-type winds or both.

If they agree, the public service director will declare the snow emergency and notify the 911 communications center, which in turn will contact the press and first-responder agencies.

The same process is followed in deciding when to lift a snow alert or snow emergency.

» Phase 4: City workers will clear downtown streets and city-maintained parking lots and sidewalks, usually depending on whether at least 4 to 6 inches of snow has fallen. Downtown streets generally will be cleared at night.

» Phase 5: Existing snow depth, future weather forecasts and hazardous conditions are considered in deciding whether snowplows will clear other residential streets. If they do, crews generally will clear driving lanes only.

Whether or not the rest of North Platte’s streets are cleared in a given storm, “special consideration will be given to areas with a drifting problem,” the policy says.

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