With about five inches of snow accumulation possible for today and tomorrow, city and county officials are preparing for the first big snowfall of the season.
Dan Waid, Hamilton County Engineer, said he keeps watch on local forecasts and radar leading up to a possible snowfall. He warned for community residents to be mindful of weather warnings this season.
"If snow starts to cancel school or activities in town, it's time to get to safety," Waid said. "I would advise that people not go out in such weather if they really don't need to."
Hamilton County Engineer Dan Waid examines snow routes through gravel and paved roads in the county. Most snow and ice removal in the county is done during daylight hours due to safety reasons, but that can change if there are emergencies.
Ken Wetzler, Webster City Public Works Director, said equipment is ready for the coming days to deal with snowfall. While snowfall is all but certain for this week, Wetzler declined to say how much it will affect Webster City.
"If need be, we will call a snow emergency, but we just don't know if we will yet. It depends on how much snow we get and we can't say for certain how much we will," Wetzler said.
Last year saw what Waid called one of the mildest winters that he could recall. As such, about half of the money allotted for snow removal was spent. Waid said that the budget for snow removal is based on historical costs and snowfall, but is still unpredictable. Generally, the budget reflects need for a normal to mild winter.
"With budgets the way they are, we never try to overestimate our budgets, but we don't want to get it to the point where we can't provide the service we need to," Waid said.
Currently, Waid has a budget of about $275,000 for snow and ice control. However, some years go well past the initial allotted budget. Waid said in the four to five years before last winter, he couldn't recall one of those years where they went under budget. In the winter of 2009-2010, Waid said they spent double what they were originally budgeted.
Waid is responsible for 10 truck routes along paved roads and 10 motor grader routes along gravel roads in Hamilton County. Conditional factors determine when drives remove snow and ice from roadways. Usually, Waid said that trucks and motor graders are sent out between 7 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. for removal, but that can also change depending on conditions.
Drivers are scheduled to not remove snow and ice in the dark to avoid equipment breaks and for general safety. But, that can also change based on need. Snow removal can be called to emergencies such as accidents or to assist utilities. Those calls go through the Hamilton County Sheriff's office.