Winter Storm Response
Snow Removal on the Streets
City employees are prepared to respond to all winter weather conditions. When snow is forecasted, the Street Maintenance and Park Maintenance Divisions closely monitor weather conditions and will formulate a plan of action based on information provided by multiple agencies.
Plowing generally begins when snow becomes two inches deep and the temperature indicates there will be no melting. Plow blades are set slightly off the ground to clear obstacles such as manholes, utility lids, etc.
When it snows, street maintenance crews concentrate on keeping primary and major arterial streets passable. The main reason these streets are the priority is that these routes provide travel access to and from hospitals, medical clinics, and extended care facilities. Primary routes traveled by school buses may also be included. Once these streets have been treated, depending on the nature of the storm, crews will then focus on medium to heavily traveled sections of arterial and collector streets, and sections of residential streets that have unusually steep grades. Lighter-traveled streets, intersections, and residential areas may then be treated. A written winter storm response plan and priority map are used as a guideline to address how crews typically respond to winter storm events.
The speed in which winter storm response work can shift from areas of high priority to areas of lower priority depends upon several factors including but not limited to road priority, storm severity, storm duration, availability of equipment, availability of manpower, time of day (concerning traffic flow and traffic priorities), and police requests for assistance at specific locations.
We kindly ask that everyone please be patient during these times. Streets are plowed according to their priority and reviewed at the end of each season. Employees work around the clock until the more than 500 lane miles of city-maintained streets are passable. The Streets Division has approximately 11 full-time employees and 10 self-propelled pieces of equipment that are set up with various configurations to address different needs, including plows, sanders, and mag tanks. Each piece of equipment has at least one of these attachments some have two different attachments. These attachments include six plows, five aggregate distributors, and four mag distributors.
Plowing and How You Can Help
Clearing driveways and entrances are the responsibility of the property owner. All residential and business owners are responsible for clearing sidewalks on their property. We appeal to our residents to clear sidewalks in front of their homes and businesses.
If you have a driveway, please use it. The more vehicles off the street, the better job we can do and the less likely it is that your vehicles will be plowed in, splashed by salt spray, or damaged.
If you do not have a driveway, park as close to the curb as possible.
To help avoid the frustration of having a snowplow cover your driveway with snow after you have cleared it, stand facing the street and shovel snow to the left of your driveway onto your yard, and not onto the street. By clearing an area to the left of your driveway and near the curb, you create a collection pocket for the snow, pushed by the plow. This pocket will prevent the plow from pushing snow back into your driveway as it passes. Also, when shoveling your driveway, it’s best to pile the snow downstream of the plows' direction. This simple step can help prevent you from having to conduct a second shovel and help keep your driveway clear. Also, please keep fire hydrants and storm drains clear of snow buildup.
Snow Removal at City Facilities and Parks
While the City's Street Maintenance Division (a branch of the Public Works Department) focuses on clearing the streets, the City's Park Maintenance Division (a branch of the Parks and Recreation Department) is dedicated to clearing access to city facilities and pathways in city parks. They too use a prioritization method based on emergency and city operation needs.
General Winter Safety Tips & Checklists
- Be familiar with the National Weather Service terminology for winter storm warnings.
- Service your snow removal equipment and have rock salt, cat litter, or sand available to generate temporary traction.
- If you must drive, equip your vehicle with snow tires or chains (see the section titled “Additional Information”, below, regarding laws for having snow tires and chains). Please do not risk getting stuck, damaging your vehicle, or blocking traffic and/or snow removal equipment.
- A road that has been salted is safer than one that has not been salted. Please do not pull out in front of any snow removal or de-icing equipment. It is dangerous for you and everyone you share the road with.
- Make sure you have sufficient heating fuel (oil, propane, gas).
- Winterize your home: insulate attics and walls, caulk, and apply weather strips to cracks in doorways.
- Have safe emergency heating equipment available (fireplace with amply dry firewood, portable space/kerosene heaters).
- Learn how to keep your home’s pipes from freezing.
- Install and/or check smoke detectors and replace batteries, if needed.
- Have disaster supplies on hand if the power goes out: flashlight, extra batteries, battery-operated radio, first-aid kit, one-week supply of food and essential medicine, fresh bottled water, non-electric can opener, extra blankets, and a fire extinguisher.
- Develop an emergency family communication plan in case family members are separated.
- Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as a family contact, especially after an advertised storm.
- Wash your vehicle shortly after the snow event has ended to avoid the risk of rust posed by salts on the street.
Who is responsible for removing snow and treating ice in areas that are not owned and/or operated by the City?
As noted above, all privately owned properties are the responsibility of the property owner. Several other public agencies are responsible for other areas of the Lewiston community. For example, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) clears all highways that run through the city; the Nez Perce County Road and Bridge Department conducts winter road operations for areas inside the county boundary; the Lewiston School District is responsible for clearing its facilities and adjacent pathways; Lewis-Clark State College is responsible for clearing its facilities and adjacent pathways, and the US Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for the areas within their system including but not limited to parking lots and the levee pathway system formally known as the Snake & Clearwater Rivers’ National Recreation Trail. If you have any questions or concerns about areas outside the City’s authority, please contact those agencies directly.
- City of Lewiston Snow Removal Flyer (pdf)
- Idaho State Police Winter Driving Information
- Commercial Vehicles and Idaho’s Chain-Up Law
- ITD'S 511 Road Conditions and Severe Weather Cameras
- Idaho Transportation Department Winter Driving Information
- Studded snow tires are legal in the State of Idaho from October 1st to April 30th.