Snowfall total nears record

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From Dec. 8 to Jan. 8, area receives 38.6 inches of snow.


HOLLY M. GILL - A 509-J school bus got stuck in the snow early Tuesday morning as it turned onto E Street, in front of the Madras City Hall. It was the second bus incident involving weather conditions in less than a week.
Over the past month, from Dec. 8-Jan. 8, the Madras area has been inundated with 38.6 inches of snow, with most of that occurring over the past week.

On Monday, local schools, some state offices, and tribal government closed, after county residents awoke to another 6 inches of snow, on top of the previous accumulation, which created treacherous conditions throughout the area.

Huge mounds of snow remain piled in parking lots, at the fairgrounds, at the hospital, and in empty lots around town, while city and county crews work long hours to clear local roads to keep the community safe.

"Right now, we're running 24/7," said Rod Fulton, roads supervisor for the city of Madras. "We started Sunday (Jan. 1) on sanding, and Monday (Jan. 2) on plowing, and haven't stopped."

The city has a crew of five clearing roads from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and another five from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

HOLLY M. GILL - A backhoe clears the parking lot at Buff Elementary Monday, after a new batch of snow overnight."We have two backhoes, two dump trucks, one grader, two loaders, and a tractor-mounted snow blower, and we're renting some other equipment, because we don't have everything we need," said Fulton, praising his crews for their hard work.

"I appreciate all the public works staff efforts in getting it done," he said Monday. "We're getting ready for the next snow."

"We typically wait for 6 inches, but we're trying something new to get ahead of the game. If we've got a foot of snow and we get two more inches, we're doing 2 inches," explained Fulton, who estimated that crews had already put in about 500 hours.

A winter storm warning was in effect through 4 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 11, with the National Weather Service calling for another 2-6 inches of snow, and then a return to colder weather later in the week.

Although the city and county both budget for snow removal, this year is definitely exceeding their expectations. "We're probably looking at about $30,000-$35,000 for snow removal," said Fulton.

"We are plowing roads that have not been addressed yet; we're bouncing all over town trying to get all the roads that are really slick," he said, noting that the crews had first done the "primary" routes, followed by the "secondary" routes.

Primary, secondary routes

Primary routes are the first priority for plowing. Those routes include the following streets:

. B Street from Northeast First to Southeast City View.

. 12th Street from B to Northeast Oak.

. Northeast A Street from Northeast 12th to Northeast 16th Street.

. Northeast Oak Street from Northeast 16th to Northeast Sixth Street.

. Southeast Buff Street from the school bus barn to Southeast Fifth Street.

. Southeast Seventh and 10th streets from Southeast Buff to B Street.

. Northeast Seventh Street from B to Northeast Oak Street.

. Southeast Sixth Street from Northeast E to B Street.

. Southeast D Street from Fifth to Southeast 10th Street.

. Southwest Second from Southwest B to Southwest J Street.

. Southwest J Street from the Culver Highway to Southeast City View.

. Southeast City View from Southeast J to Northeast B Street.

. Northeast Kemper Way to the middle school and aquatic center entrances.

. Northeast 16th Street from Northeast Oak to Northeast B Street.

. B Street/Ashwood Road between City View and Bean Drive.

Secondary snow routes are plowed next, including the following streets:

. Northeast 10th Street from Northeast Cedar to Northeast Oak Street. . Northeast Henry Street from Northeast 10th to Northeast Seventh Street.

. Northeast Seventh Street from Northeast Henry to Northeast Oak Street.

. Northeast Sixth Street from Northeast B to Northeast Pine Street.

. Southeast C Street from Grizzly Road to Northeast Fifth Street.

. Southwest C Street from Southwest First to Southwest Fifth Street.

. Southwest Third Street from Southwest B to Southwest E Street.

. Southwest G Street from the Culver Highway to Southwest Fourth Street.

. Southwest Madison Street from Southwest J to Southwest M Streets.

. Southwest Bard Lane from Highway 97 to Southwest Adams Drive.

. Southeast Eighth Street from Southeast Buff to Southeast H Street.

. Southeast Turner Street from Southeast H to Southeast J Street.

. McTaggart Road between Buff Street and J Street.

. Loucks Drive from Highway 97 to Bean Drive.

Fulton asked that people park off the street to make it easier for his crews to clear the streets. "If they can park in their driveways, it will make the process go a lot faster."

City policy prohibits parking along primary and secondary snow removal routes when there is significant snowfall. Vehicles parked on those routes may be towed at the owner's expense.

The county does not have a formal policy spelling out which roads are primary and secondary for snow plowing purposes, according to Mike McHaney, Jefferson County Public Works director.

"We have over 500 miles of road to plow," he said. "We divide the 500 miles into 10 snow routes, which averages about 50 miles per route."

The county has five snow plows and five motor graders to remove snow, and keeps one snow plow at Camp Sherman and one motor grader at Ashwood.

"The road to Deer Ridge Correctional Facility is first on one of our routes," said McHaney, whose crews usually start at 4 or 5 a.m. during snow events, and work until 5 or 6 p.m.

"We do not work 24/7 during snow events," he said. "Last week, we averaged about 12-15 hours of overtime per employee."

Both Fulton and McHaney have been working for city and county, respectively, for two decades, and consider this year's snowfall to be significant.

"This is the 20th winter that I have been Public Works director and I would say this winter is more snow than we usually experienced in past years," said McHaney.

According to the Western Regional Climate Center, which has nearly complete data dating back to 1920-21, with totals on a July through June model, the 2016-17 total already ranks second for total annual snowfall of 38.6 inches, with more than six months remaining.

The record occurred in 1955-56, when a total of 43.4 inches was listed: 17 inches in November 1955, 12.7 in December 1955, 9.2 in January 1956, 4.0 in February, and 0.5 in March 1956.

Other notable years included 1968-69, with 38.5 inches; 1949-50, with 37 inches; and 1985-86, with 36 inches.